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Mar 11

Why Should We Care About Honey Bees? (Bee Info Series- Part I of V)

Posted on March 11, 2016 at 3:55 PM by Allan Warren

BeesIf you’ve ever felt hungry, you will inherently realize why we should care about pollinators, specifically honey bees. As far as pollinators go, honey bees offer some distinct benefits for crop pollination: they work in mass numbers (colonies of up to 50,000 bees); they can pollinate a wide variety of plants, and they can be managed by humans.

Lack of suitable foraging habitat is one of the biggest issues facing honey bees globally, and this is true in Washington State as well.

The four main issues affecting honey bees in Washington are:

  • Lack of forage/proper nutrition
  • Parasites & pathogens
  • Pesticide exposure 
  • And lack of genetic diversity 
Just like people, bees flourish under ideal conditions and suffer from reduced hive health when they struggle to meet those conditions. 

Planting bee friendly plants is a great way to help the honey bees. You will see a list of beneficial plants in an upcoming article in our series. Parasites and pathogens can be very destructive on the hive especially the parasitic Varroa mite. The Varroa mite has been the single most destructive issue for hives in the U.S. since the late 1980’s. It’s important to protect your hives with proper miticide to reduce the predation by Varroa mites. Pesticide exposure is another issue being studied for it’s effects on bees. That will also be covered in an upcoming article. Similar to humans, bees need genetic diversity to have robust hives. The above issues have caused reduced genetic diversity and have a detrimental effect to overall hive health. So by addressing the above three issues we can help promote more genetic diversity in the hives.

So, if you’re like me and you really enjoy fresh produce, you already know why we should all care about honey bees and work together towards a more honey bee friendly future!

Explore the Other Parts of the Bee Info Series Here:

The Bee Info Series was produced by the Washington Ag Forestry Class 37. Several of the members of this class authored the articles as part of a public policy project. If you want to learn more about the Ag Forestry program visit their website: http://agforestry.org/

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