Honey Bee Health an Ongoing Issue

Colony collapse disorder, or a massive die-off in honey bees has become a persistent problem in the past few years. Dr. David Tarpy, NC State Extension Apiary Expert discusses the situation, as to why:

“We don’t know for certain, but we do know that honey bees live in a complex environment and are exposed to many different stressors. The focus in on three main areas of concern: 1- different parasites and pathogens that have been affecting honey bees. This has been going on for a long time but it seems that the complexity of the diseases is very problematic. 2- Nutritional stress. There is not as much bee plants out there for them to forage on and they be deprived of nectar an pollen. 3- Environmental contaminants, like pesticides, that may be playing a well in bee ill heath as well.”

Tarpy explains just how important honey bees are to the agricultural economy:

“Over 100 different crops rely in part or entirely on them for pollination. Its an upstream process for our ag food supply where bees are the main go between for flowers that results in seed and then fruit. So we wouldn’t have about 1/3 of everything we eat if it weren’t for bees. About 80% of all the healthy good stuff we eat would be absent if not for bees.”

So, what can we do to preserve bee health? Tarpy has these suggestions:

“Number one is to be vocal and aware of this issue. The plight of the honey bee has been very prominent in the media and that has spurred action among people to try to help. Supporting research initiatives is another way. Making sure elected officials are aware to make the proper changes to public policy.”

Just last week the EPA said it will be changing the labeling requirements on fungicides, now considered to be one of the culprits of the decline in bee health.

Dr. David Tarpy, NC State Extension bee specialist.


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