Colony Collapse Disorder – What happened
Government estimates show the decline of managed honey bee colonies as half today the number of colonies in the 1940s, even as the demand for honeybee products has increased over the years.
Why the honey bee colony decline spells disaster
But the loss is not just economic; a third of the food in the American diet is made possible through honey bee pollination. Many foods that can only exist with the assistance of bee pollination, such as:
- Almonds and other tree nuts
- Most fruits
- Most vegetables
What is causing the decline in bee colonies
What can be done to save honeybee colonies
- Along with their regular crops, farmers are being encouraged to grow groundcover plants that are considered bee-friendly, such as buckwheat, mustard, and sweet clover.
- Almond growers in particular are being advised to grow groundcover plants along canal banks and roadways. Almonds are highly dependent on the honeybee, and such groundcover planting keeps the honeybees active and healthy during those times when the almond crops have not yet begun to flower.
- Research continues on many fronts, including several studies by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, to better identify causes and, if necessary, outlaw the use of those pesticides or fungicides in farming that appear to play a significant part in the honeybee colony decline.
- Avoid indiscriminate use of pesticides.
- Particularly avoid using pesticides in the middle of the day, as that is when honey bees do most of their nectar-foraging.
- Seed your property with foxglove, the Palm, red clover, and other plants that encourage bee pollenization.
- Consider becoming a backyard beekeeper.