Beekeepers and Scientists Join Forces to Protect the Pollinators

Honeybees, heroes in the national food supply, are under threat from parasites, exhaustion and a mysterious ailment. Here’s how beekeepers and scientists are fighting back to save the hives.

Honeybees support the production of the fruits, vegetables and nuts in the world’s food supply through their work as pollinators. Their numbers in the United States have been under threat in recent years from three formidable adversaries: parasitic mites, exhaustion from overwork and the mysterious appearance of a newly identified ailment known as colony collapse disorder.

In interviews with beekeepers and scientists, Retro Report examines the devastating impact of the Varroa mite, the strain placed on bees by commercial pollination demands and a perplexing disorder that has wiped out entire colonies.

Today, beekeepers and scientists are teaming up to save the hives and keep the bee population steady. As these experts unravel what is being done to protect hives and restore colonies, we explore new methods of disease prevention and surprising scientific advances like robo-bee pollinators and tiny radio tags that can track bee movements.

Educators, click below for a lesson plan accompanying this video, and check out our Environmental Education Collection.

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Previous versions
At Retro Report, we update our journalism as news unfolds. Here are the previous published versions of this story.
For teachers
  • Read transcript
  • Producer: Joshua Fisher
  • Editor: Sandrine Isambert
  • Update Producers: Sianne Garlick
  • Update Producers: Sandra McDaniel
  • Update Editor: Brian Kamerzel

For Educators


This nine-minute video explores colony collapse disorder, which scientists first identified in the 2000s. The phenomenon has caught the public’s attention. So did a fact few realized: honeybees play an integral role in the national food supply. One result of awareness about colony collapse disorder is a new concern and respect for the honeybee. This lesson plan moves beyond concern for the agricultural importance of honeybees to explore the role that pollinators play in ecosystems. Students will learn how pollinators support the sexual reproduction of plants and healthy ecosystems.

Lesson Plan 1: Beekeepers and Scientists Join Forces to Protect the Pollinators

Student will learn about colony collapse disorder and explore the role that pollinators play in ecosystems.


Students will:

  • Analyze text structure and apply their knowledge.
  • Evaluate descriptive writing and select passages that support the thesis.
  • Evaluate graph data to write a Claim Evidence Reason (CER) paragraph.
Essential questions
  • What is colony collapse disorder and how has it affected bee populations?
  • Why are honeybees essential to agriculture?
  • What role do pollinators play in their habitat and ecosystem? What role do they play in sexual reproduction?
  • Common Core State Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RSIT.7.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RSIT.6.4:Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative, connotative and technical meanings.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.7.5:Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4:Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.9:Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research.
  • AP Environmental Science
    • Unit 9: Global Change