Facts, Info, and Questions

on the almighty Honey Bee

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The Declining
Population of Bees

A new report shows that honey bee populations in the U.S have declined by 60% over the past 70 years, and this has been linked to a decline of 90% among pollinators per hectare for crops requiring bee pollination since 1962. The declining population is an issue because it affects food production as well as biodiversity on Earth. As bees are responsible for cross-pollinating plants which create more food; their loss can lead to decreased food diversity overall. Monocultures are not helping the overall health of our ecosystem. 


The small hive beetle (SHB) is a destructive insect that feeds off of honeycombs. The SHB originated from Africa and has been invading other countries as the result of globalization. As they feed on pollen stores during winter months, Hive Beetles destroy beehives in their path to get at these foods which undermine bee populations and production rates worldwide. While the small hive beetle is a secondary pest, it’s destructive power can cause serious damage to hives that are already weakened. Once worker bees begin losing their battles against SHB invaders, these beetles destroy entire bee colonies and take all of their honey stores with them. Healthy bee colonies will be able to protect themselves from invasive SHB due to workers’ efforts in protecting the colony.


The Verroa destructor is the most destructive and difficult pest that bees deal with. Small hive beetles usually don’t become a problem until Verroa mites weaken a hive. In addition verroa mites spread viruses to bee’s. An example of this is Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV). Feral bees often have high mite loads and need to go through a series of integrated pest management strategy’s. Then they can go to a honey production yard or for pollination. 


The future of bees is looking grim. For pollinators, their habitat needs to be intact and they need access to food sources such as fruit trees or wildflowers in order for them to survive. As development increases around urban areas, the amount of space available for wildlife shrinks causing a strain on these vital creatures that help keep our environment healthy. The lack of bees and pollination puts a strain on food sources for many species, including humans. The environment we have created with manicured lawns instead of native vegetation isn’t providing enough food or nesting sites necessary for their survival.


Pesticides used in farming, as well as those found on lawns and gardens, pose serious risks for bees. The pesticides may kill the bee outright or have subtle effects that reduce their ability to thrive.

This is concerning because about 90% of flowering plants require bees for fertilization. In agriculture, nearly a third of pollination is accomplished by honeybees. Based on these facts one can see how valuable bees are. Thus, when using pesticides for crops and flowers, please be mindful of their effects. 

Scientists know that individual bees can be acutely poisoned while flying through pesticide-contaminated planter dust in a recently planted corn field. Most commonly, they are chronically poisoned at sublethal levels by eating and drinking contaminated pollen, nectar, and water over time. These chemicals also make them more likely to get sick from other diseases such as viruses or bacteria, thus negatively affecting the whole colony.

Additional Types of Infestations

The Declining
population of bees