Schacker's book is an excellent resource for the well-educated person who wants a broad and detailed review of Colony Collapse Disorder. It is not, however, the final word on the cause: Schacker takes one theory -- that CCD is caused by the pesticide imidacloprid (IMD) -- and, while making a convincing case, fails to account for some reported CCD die-offs that are *not* consistent with the pesticide theory. The work also wanders into topics that are arguably not related to CCD, as mentioned in other reviews. That said, the book is timely and well-researched, and presents an array of suggested responses to CCD that regular people can implement, from planting bee-friendly gardens, to keeping bees, to challenging government inaction/incompetence.
I bought this book as a new hardback because I feel the need to be as well educated as possible about CCD. I also recommend the website for the documentary The Vanishing of the Bees.
Schacker reviews some of the CCD theories that have made cameos in the news media over the last two years, including a thorough and amusing dismissal of the "cell phones are killing the bees!" story. After rejecting many theories, he presents the story of CCD in France (a story we've heard relatively little about in the U.S.) and explains why French beekeepers came to suspect the pesticide IMD. It's a compelling narrative, and there is data in the U.S. that supports it. However, one of our country's top bee researchers, Dr. Eric Mussen of UC Davis, recently recounted in his newsletter (repeated by apiarist Kim Flottum in his "Catch the Buzz" newsletter) that the pattern of CCD's spread looks more like a disease than pesticide misuse.
My point is, it's too early in the crisis to settle on one hypothesis. In the meantime, yes: let's invoke the "Precautionary Principle" and suspend IMD use. And yes, let's include the French research; to not do so would be anti-scientific and arguably criminal. But let's continue to do the science. More research is required, and the public can help by supporting funding for a broad research effort on CCD, both through private donation and pressure on government funding sources. (Funding earmarked for CCD by the USDA in early 2007 is only becoming available this August, almost a year and a half later; the severity of the crisis demands more timely and responsive leadership -- anything less is incompetence.)
I don't agree with everything Schacker argues in this book, but I do relate to the sentiments he expresses in Chapter Nine, "Civilization Collapse Disorder" (which includes the sub-chapter heading "The Public Has To Wake Up"). I am glad to see this book on the shelves: it's a thought-provoking and helpful -- if not quite perfect -- resource.