A steady population of bee decline has been observed, with the numbers of western honey bee colonies in North America dramatically plummeting in the latter half of the 20th century.
That's bad news - as without bees all life on Earth is in serious trouble. Bees are among nature's best pollinators, and without them, food production could seriously suffer.
The mystery of colony collapse disorder - CCD, when the majority of worker bees leave a colony and its queen behind - is still unsolved. A hotly debated topic in agriculture, academia and science, there are numerous theories for what could be behind colony collapse disorder, but the bigger picture could mean a combination of some, all, or none of them.
The threat to bees is an existential threat to all of us. Technology alone is unlikely to save the bees, but innovators from some of the world's most forward-looking research labs, government initiatives, and private contributions are all working towards better understanding how to set about this urgent task - from building totally synthetic environments to equipping bees with RFID 'backpacks'.