Honey Bees are facing serious health threats known as the “Four P’s:” parasites, pathogens, pesticides, and poor nutrition. These factors combined contribute to the deaths of an average of 40% of colonies each year in the USA. Click on the interactive images below to learn more about these factors:
Project Apis m. Supports the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP). Each Year the BIP conducts a honey bee health and management survey. This survey is another excellent source of honey bee health data. To view the survey data Click Here (external link)
This resource is brought to you by Project Apis m. and the National Honey Board
The single largest culprit of colony losses is the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, an introduced pest from Asia. The mite feeds on the hemolymph of bees, vectoring viruses and bacteria as it does so; the Western honey bee is very vulnerable to this pest. Left unchecked, this mite will kill most honey bee colonies. Most beekeepers use chemical treatments to control Varroa mites and keep colonies alive. This is not ideal because chemical treatments are costly and laborious, have variable results, can leave residues, and may have sublethal effects on the bees themselves. Mites also develop resistance to chemical treatments. A more sustainable approach to managing Varroa is through development and use of mite-resistant bees. The best characterized mechanism of resistance is the behavioral trait called Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH). Bees that express VSH can detect reproducing Varroa in capped brood and remove the infested larvae, ensuring that the mites do not successfully reproduce.
Just like humans, honey bees are better able to deal with stressors if properly nourished. Good nutrition mitigates other health threats including Varroa, pathogens and pesticides.
However, as agriculture becomes more efficient, and urban development expands there is less habitat available for honey bees and other pollinators on the landscape.
Acres of land used to produce corn and soybeans has been steadily on the rise since the 1980s. Much of the land used to produce these monoculture crops was previously grasslands or diverse farmlands. The Conservation Reserve Program...