Honey bees ‘buzzing’ back after years of decline

Honeybees are making a comeback after years of declining populations.

In 2016 honey bees were on the verge of extinction but now, colonies have hit a 20 year high.

For years, beekeepers started noticing honey bees abandoning their hives and not returning – known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

While the honey bee deaths were mysterious to some, beekeepers believe several factors went into the decline.

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Ron Fischer at Wallace’s Garden Center in Bettendorf says the lack of bee forage and the varroa mite - which carries diseases could be a factor for the decline. Farmers spraying pesticides on crops have also been a problem for bees.

“Around this time last year, we were seeing honey bees dying off in the summer which is very unusual,” Fischer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a honey bee health survey and found the number of honey bee colonies in the U.S. rose 3 percent - totaling nearly three million new colonies since April 2016. More beekeepers also noticed less colonies dying off during this past winter.

The number of hives lost was also down 27 percent but it’s not all gold in the land of honey. Some beekeepers say mites, along with pesticides are still a threat to hives.

Fischer says honey bee colonies are vital to agriculture and the food we eat.

“The most important product of the beehive is the bees' pollination to fruits and vegetables. About 1/3 of all the food we eat is pollinated by bees,” said Fischer. “Bee pollination is the most important aspect of a hive, honey is secondary and beeswax is third.”

During the decline, beekeepers were losing out on their colonies at an alarming rate. Many increased their numbers to increase pollination, which helped raise the number of colonies this year.

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