Honeybees: Population Declines Continue, Is The American Food Supply In Jeopardy?

Honeybees have been disappearing at an alarming rate since 2005. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) has sparked increased efforts to preserve the pollinating insects. Approximately 70 percent of our food supply is pollinated by honeybees — if the bees die, the human race will not be far behind.

Although many long, cold weeks of winter remain, beekeepers from around the country are busy preparing for the upcoming pollination season. In Connecticut, where a $3 billion agricultural economy hangs in the balance, 7,000 beehives are being painstakingly tended to and monitored – actions which are echoed in a host of agricultural-based states.

As much as 70 percent of the honeybees in colder parts of the country did not survive the harsh winter last year. Honeybee population declines are developing as a major blow to farmers and gardeners – a situation that could lead to higher food prices. The 2013, colony collapse disorder statistics follows record losses of the little pollinators due to colony collapse disorder, a condition in which entire hives disappear or die.

“Bees are the primary link between us and the bounty of fruits and vegetables in our supermarkets. People don’t realize how important they are,” Logee’s Nursery owner in Danielson, Connecticut, Byron Martin, said. “You don’t need a bee to get a head of broccoli or alfalfa. You do need bees to pollinate the mother plants that produce the seeds that grow those crops. People miss that connection.”

Beekeepers from across America have lamented the decline of their colonies for several years. A 2013 Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report in the United Kingdom shed more than a little light on the honeybee population decline, but so far, United States agricultural experts have failed to take corrective steps to combat the potentially devastating agricultural issue.


A class of insecticide chemicals routinely used in America are killing off the bee population, according to the UK report. The chemical culprits are typically applied to rapeseed (canola), corn, sugar beets, and a handful of other crops around the world. Related data released in the European Union confirms the threat to healthy bee colonies. Iowa beekeeper Bob Wolff called the winter of 2013 the worst winter he has ever seen for the honeybee population.

The volunteer beekeeper at the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids told the Gazette newspaper that only two of the 12 hives he kept still remain. Wolff estimates that the colony experienced a 60-70 percent loss overall.

“It’s estimated that agriculture brings in $3 billion to the state’s economy. Bees play an integral part in that equation,” Connecticut state been inspector Mark Creighton said.

American foulbrood disease killed massive numbers of honeybees in the early 1900s, prompting many states to being training and employing government bee inspectors.

What do you think should be done to protect the honeybees and the American food supply?

[Image via: Shutterstock.com]

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