For most farmers and commercial growers in the US, honey bees are responsible for carrying out pollination, a process that is essential for the production of many crops including tree nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. It is estimated that honey bee pollination contributes more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year, according to the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Yet there is a growing consensus amongst the farming and scientific communities that honey bee populations are in decline in the US.
The number of managed honey bee populations in the US have declined 50% from over 5 million in the 1940s to 2.5 million currently, according to the USDA Agricultural Research Service. While farmers and commercial bee keepers have documented losses in honey bee populations, a phenomenon termed Colony Collapse Disorder; they are not the only ones. Groups such as the Great Sunflower Project have engaged the general public in taking counts of the number of pollinators they observe in their urban, suburban, and rural settings to better understand what is happening. Diseases and the indiscriminate usage of neonicotinoid pesticides are believed to have contributed to an overall decline in honey bee populations.
To help the honey bees, there are several recommendations we can take. For one, do not apply pesticides indiscriminately or during the mid-day when bees are most active. Secondly, consider planting pollinator-friendly plants (see www.nappc.org) that will attract bees. An even better suggestion would be to apply Vegalabs Pollen Boost to help attract more pollinators (including honey bees) to your plants.