So, what does the honey bee population look like over the past ten years? We’re glad you asked!
The Honey Bee Year
Throughout the summer, the number of bees in each colony increases again to make a strong, healthy colony. How? Well, the queen is constantly laying eggs (up to 2,000 per day!) in the height of the season and the average lifespan of a worker bee during the summer is about six weeks. This means that, in a colony of some 50,000 bees, a few thousand honey bees may die each day of natural causes but this is offset in the colony as some 2,000 worker bees hatch each day.
Most surveys of honey bee colonies track losses, but they don’t always report the gains in colony numbers that take place over the spring and summer. (It’s sort of like basing your financial situation only on your bank withdrawals, but not what you’ve deposited.) What does this all mean? Think of it this way: If a beekeeper experiences a loss of 40 percent of his or her colonies, that’s not good. However, the beekeeper can replace them the following year, albeit at a financial cost. So, just talking about colony losses isn’t really indicative of overall honey bee health.
Honey Bee Health
What factors affect the health of honey bee colonies? Here are the key threats:
So, to answer the original question: No, honey bee colonies aren’t moving towards extinction (phew) — in fact they’re increasing in numbers around the world (double phew). But honey bees still face many challenges around the world. Because of this, it is important to study and monitor health concerns, so we can be sure to protect our buzzing pollinator buddies.
Thankfully, organizations such as Project Apis m. and others worldwide are working on treatments and other ways to help honey bee populations. Through our Bee Care Science Program, we are supporting many other projects around the world, including Healthy Hives 2020 LATAM.
In 2015, Bayer launched Healthy Hives 2020 USA with a goal of funding research that is focused on finding tangible solutions to many of the challenges honey bees face by the year 2020. With less than two years to go, we can’t wait to share the results of these independent bee researchers! Learn more about the Bayer Bee Care Program and our efforts to protect honey bees here.
And remember, you don’t need a science degree to help support pollinators. There’s plenty you can do right from home! Here’s how you can get started.