Honeybee deaths rose last year. Here’s why farmers would go bust without bees

Honeybee deaths increased last year, posing a serious threat to farmers who rely on bees for crop pollination.

The key role of bees: Bees are crucial for pollination of many crops.
* Hail Bennett, a farmer, rents bees from a commercial beekeeper every spring to pollinate his blueberry bushes.
* Each flower on his crop has to be visited six to eight times by a honeybee to be fully pollinated.

The adversity bees face: Bees continue to struggle and face a threat from varroa mites and other adverse factors.
* Varroa mites are small parasites that feed on bees and shorten their lifespan. They are a major concern and make it difficult for bees to stay healthy.
* Beekeepers have found some success using formic acid to protect bees against varroa mites.
* Bees are also threatened by the use of pesticides, loss of nutrition sources due to urbanization or land use practices, and climate change.

By the numbers: A survey involving 3,006 beekeepers from across the U.S. revealed that beekeepers lost 48.2% of their colonies between April 2022 and April 2023.
* This year’s count represents the second highest estimated loss rate since the survey started recording annual losses from 2010 to 2011.

Notable voices: Hail Bennett emphasises the importance of public understanding of where their food comes from, highlighting the essential role of bees in agriculture.
* Jeff Pettis, former USDA research scientist and president of Apimondia, confirms the challenges beekeepers face in maintaining their colonies.
* Steven Reese, a hobbyist beekeeper, expresses that managing his bees requires work, but it’s worth the effort.

View original article on NPR

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