Ross School - Senior Project 2007-08

Student: Jasper Wilson

Mentor: Annemarie Costello


Title: The Plight of the Honeybee

Description: For my senior project I researched the demise of the honeybees in North America, as well as the rest of the world. I wrote a paper on the issue and gave a presentation on Colony Collapse Disorder to the high school during Community Meeting. The paper explored the life cycle of the honeybee, identified the different species of honeybee, and then went into the problems caused by the mass die-offs of honeybee colonies. I composed a list possible causes for the die-offs and went through the list explaining each possibility.


The Plight of the Honeybee


               For my senior project I decided to write a research paper on the recent disappearance of the honeybees. For about a year there have been articles in various newspapers as well as on the Internet about honeybee colonies across the United States simply disappearing. In May 2007, when it  was time to select what I would be doing for my senior project, I could not figure out what I wanted to do. I debated filming a documentary but decided against it. I ended up deciding on a research paper about the problem facing the honeybees.

               Summer break came and I did not give my project much thought. When school started again in the fall I was hesitant to get down to work on my project. I got a lot of articles off the Internet during September and early October. I read a few of them but on the whole did start researching and gaining information right away. In early October I decided that I wanted to go away over Thanksgiving break. I was allowed to go away only if I met certain deadlines before hand. This worked well and I had a period of good work. After I made the deadlines I began to slack off again.

               When I returned from Thanksgiving break I missed preliminary approval to present. I was given a contract of what I had to do by December 19. I did not meet the contract and was not given first round approval. When I returned from Christmas break in early January I still had not made a lot of progress. I missed the second round of approvals on January 14 which meant I would have to spend M-Term on campus in order to finish the project.

               My project is a research paper on this problem affecting the honeybees called colony collapse disorder, or CCD. There is still little known about CCD because it only appeared recently. I found as many articles as I could on CCD and pulled out what scientists were say may be the cause of CCD. I would then look into each of these possible causes and try to figure out if the causes were plausible. My paper also gave some background on the history of honeybees in the United States, brief summaries on the seven specie of honeybees, honeybee life-cycles, etc. I also talked about the possible effects if CCD were to be left unchecked. Because the problem is so new and because not much is known about it, I was unable to draw any definite conclusions as to what is the cause of CCD. However, through research I was able to come to the conclusion that CCD is caused by a combination of viruses, pesticides, and genetically modified crops.

               I think my main challenge was finding motivation. I feel like I did not really grasp how infinite my choices were when when I decided to write the paper. In the fall I still was not thinking much about the project and I did not choose to change projects then either. In the end I just had to force my way through the project even though it was not something that inspired me or gave me pleasure to do.

Works Cited

Arias, Maria and Walter Sheppard. “Phylogenetic relationships of honey bees inferred from nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence data.” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 37.1 (October, 2005): 25-35.

Dennis, Brian. “The Life Cycle of the Honeybee Apis mellifera.” Feb. 2003. Viewed 23 Sept. 2007. <>.

The Economist. “Science and Technology: A Sticky Ending; Dying Bees.” 08 Sept. 2007. Viewed 17 Sept. 2007. <>.

Ford, Gary. “How Is Honey Made??” Mar. 2006. Viewed 13 Jan. 2008. <>.

Fox, Maggie. “New virus, Israeli acute paralysis virus, may be killing bees.” 06 Sept. 2007. Viewed 03 Dec. 2007.<>.

Heinen, Maryam. “Scientists Know One Cause of Bee Disease.” 03 Aug. 2007. Viewed 12 Jan. 2008. <>.

Kuhn, Jochen. “Verhaltensänderungen unter elektromagnetischer Exposition.” Feb. 2006. Viewed 03 Dec. 2007. <

Nutt, Amy. “Widely-Used Bayer Pesticide Blamed for Mass Deaths of Honeybees.” 23 May 2007.Viewed 07 Jan. 2008. <>.

Oertel, E. “Early Records of Honeybees in the Eastern United States.” American Bee Journal. Feb.-Jun. 1976, 116 5 Parts.

Oldroyd, Benjamin. “What's Killing American Honey Bees?” PloS Biology. 12 June 2007. Viewed 12 Sept. 2007. <

Sahba, Amy. “The Mysterious Deaths of the Honeybees.” 29 Mar. 2007. Viewed 20 Sept. 2007. <>.

van Westendorp, Paul. “An Update on Kashmir Bee Virus in British Columbia, Canada.” 29 Jul.2004. Viewed 10 Jan. 2008. <

Zax, David. “Interview: May Berenbaum.” June 2007. Viewed 14 Sept. 2007.<>.

Community Member (Details)

Mary Woltz