Beemageddon? Honeybee numbers at 20 year high

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You’ve heard the news about honeybees. “Beepocalypse,” they’ve called it. Beemageddon. America’s honeybees are dying, putting honey production and $15 billion worth of pollinated food crops in jeopardy.

The trouble all began around 2006, when beekeepers began noticing mysterious die-offs. It was soon christened “colony collapse disorder,” and has been responsible for the loss of 20 to 40 percent of managed honeybee colonies each winter.

But the number of honeybee colonies has actually risen since CCD was first documented in 2006, from 2.4 million to 2.7 million in 2014, according to the USDA. The 2014 numbers show that the number commercial honey-producing bee colonies managed by human beekeepers is now the highest it’s been in 20 years.

So if CCD is wiping out close to a third of all honeybee colonies a year, how are their numbers rising? One word: Beekeepers.

Beekeepers have devised two main ways to replenish stock. The first involves splitting one healthy colony into two separate colonies. The other involves buying a bunch of bees to replace the ones you lost. When CCD came along, it roughly doubled the usual annual rate of bee die-offs. But this doesn’t mean that bees are going extinct, just that beekeepers need to work a little harder to keep production up.

Related article:  Rising CO2 levels makes pollen less nutritious for bees, may contribute to colony collapse

The price of that extra work will get passed on to the consumer. The retail price of honey has roughly doubled since 2006. And Kim Kaplan, a researcher with the USDA, points out the amount beekeepers charge to cart their bees around to farms and pollinate fruit and nut trees has approximately doubled over the same period.

But rising prices for fruit and nuts hardly constitute the “beepocalypse” that we’ve all been worried about.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Call off the bee-pocalypse: U.S. honeybee colonies hit a 20-year high

Outbreak Featured
Infographic: Growing human embryos — How long should researchers watch human development play out in a dish?

Infographic: Growing human embryos — How long should researchers watch human development play out in a dish?

In May, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) released new guidelines that relaxed the 14-day rule, taking away ...
Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
glp menu logo outlined

Get news on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.