Honey Bee Industry Feeling the Sting

A huge decrease in the bee population over the past year has agriculture feeling the sting.

From April 2020 to April 2021 the honey bee population in the U.S. has decreased by 45.5%. That’s the second-largest loss since recording began in 2006, according to surveys conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) that help the industry identify and manage its losses.

If that turnover sounds high, it’s because it is. It’s worth noting the average annual loss rate is 39.4% — nearly double what beekeepers deem an “acceptable” rate of turnover (20%).

Why the buzz? Last week was National Pollinator Week organized by the USDA. This year’s theme was: “A bee-less future would sting us all.”

Pollinators help produce more than 100 crop varieties in the U.S. alone, adding $18 billion in value to important staples including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. One-third of our diets as we know them are dependent on pollinators like honey bees.