Honeybees - Why Are They Disappearing?

What is Happening to Our Honeybees?

As most people are aware, there is a major decline in the number of honeybees over the last several years. The following article contains information on the honeybee and several theories as to why the honeybees are disappearing and what we can do to help.

Are Our Honey Bees Disappearing?

Honeybee pollenating yellow flower.
Honeybee pollenating yellow flower. | Source

General Information

Honeybees are members of the order Hymenoptera, which also includes flies, wasps and ants. The commonly known “honey bee” is the Apis mellifera. Honeybees are the only animals besides humans known to have a representational language. They share information by touching each others antennae and do what is sometimes called a “waggle dance” which tells the other bees the location of food.

Queen bees are the only sexually productive females in the colony, thus she is the mother of all drones, workers, and future queens. The queen bee can choose the sex of each egg she lays and can lay up to 1500 eggs daily. The male bees are known as drones. Their only function within the hive is to mate. After mating, which happens in the air, the drone dies. Workers build and maintain the nest and care for the brood. They build the nest from wax secreted from glands in their abdomen.

Bee on Purple Coneflower

Bee collecting pollen.
Bee collecting pollen. | Source

Honeybees on the Decline

Honeybees are a very important part of our agriculture as the provide pollination for our vegetable crops as well as our fruit crops and flowers. Bees are not the only source of pollination, however they are one of the main sources.

There has been such a reduction in the numbers of honey bees that there has been much attention brought to this problem. It is being termed, The Colony Collapse Disorder. Beekeepers have been known to open their hives only to discover that they were suddenly and mysteriously empty. Some bee keepers report having lost as much as seventy per cent of their colonies, and these losses, in turn, are likely to reduce the yields of crops.

There are several theories as to why this decline is happening. Many believe that it is a combination of things: viruses, mites, and industrial agriculture.

Purple Coneflower with Bee

Bees in one of my flower gardens.
Bees in one of my flower gardens. | Source

Viruses and Mites

The viruses compromise bees’ ability to manufacture proteins, and proteins are the tools bees use to fight off pathogens, detoxify pesticides and repair their cells. It would be much like if our health is bad, we are not as able to fight off viruses and infections and we “catch” whatever illness is going around. New strains of viruses are found every year, not only for us humans but also for the bees.

Varroa mites are suspected to be another part of the puzzle. Varroa mites are tiny parasites that attach themselves to the bees and feed on their blood. There are also tracheal mites, which attack the bees breathing tubes,as well as several others. Mites are parasites which live off the bees and their larve, destroying their health in the process.

Honey Bee on Wildflower

Honeybee on Yellow Flower
Honeybee on Yellow Flower

Industrial Agriculture

There was a study done on hundreds of pollen samples, which showed, on average, six different pesticides. It was reported that studies also identified sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoids and fungicides, pesticides that may impair the bee's immune system. It is believed that these pesticides impair the bee’s immune system, which leaves the bee more susceptible to bee viruses.

What We Can Do To Help

The best thing we can do to help the bees is to not use pesticides. If that is not possible for you, don’t use these pesticides during mid-day while the honeybees are more likely to be out foraging for pollen and nectar. Plant flowers that are good nectar sources like red clover, foxglove and bee balm. Yellow cosmos, cone flowers, morning glorys and sunflowers are execellent flower for bees also. We need to encourage good nutrition for our bees in order to keep them as healthy as possible.

No one knows for sure why the honeybees are disappearing. Scientists are trying to find the culprits and a solution, but much of it is still speculation. I hope this information on the disappearance of the honeybees is informative and helpful. If you have a vegetable garden or flower gardens, be kind to your bees.

Have you noticed a decline in honey bees where you live?

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Comments 30 comments

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello C Mark! About 2 years ago, I noticed a huge drop in the number of bees in my vegetable garden. I became concerned and did some research on it and read about the colony collapse disorder. This could be very dangerous for all of us. I have always tried to limit my pesticide use, but now more than ever. Last year my bee population was back up and I have high hopes for this year as well. I don't know if I have ever seen Russian bees, but I know better than to swat at any bees. We just have a little conversation. I tell them that if they won't sting me, I will continue to take care of my garden and furnish them with food, but if they sting me, they are on their own. LOL Thank you for taking time to read my hub and comment, it is always appreciated. Have a wonderful day! :)

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Peggy,

I try not to use pesticides in my gardens, but last year I had to. The army worms were eating everything! I had never seen them so bad. I agree that the biggest problem is the commercial growers, but then I don't know what choices they have. If the honey bees disappear, we are all going to be in big trouble. Thank you for your kind comment and all your support. Your know how much I appreciate you! Have a wonderful day! :)

c mark walker profile image

c mark walker 3 years ago from Jasper Georgia

I've noticed a drop in bee pollination in my garden getting worse every year. My tomato blossoms simply drop off. It's not only domestic bees but wild bees as well that are scarce. Wild bees are very tiny and usually solitary but their hind legs are loaded down with pollen. Fewer Russian bees(yellow hornets) than ever before. Russian bees are the large yellow imposing bees that so many people fear for their size but they're actually friendly. Curiosity on their part is why they get in your face.Be calm around them and don't swat at them. Personally I like bees having learned to work around them when working at an apple house years ago with swarms all around me all day. If your calm,they won't sting. Bees are going to be a real concern if their lives are threatened and we don't change practices like herbicide and pesticide over use.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

I don't use any pesticides in my vegetable garden. I use natural methods like soapy water on aphids, crushed eggshells around plants to keep snails and slugs away, etc. I realize that the bigger problem is commercial farming where pesticides ARE used. The colony bee collapse should worry everyone in the world since much of our food supply comes from them doing the pollinating. Excellent hub and wonderful photos. Up, useful, interesting and will share and pin.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Kasman! Summer before last I notice there were hardly any bees in my garden. I usually have a little "talk" with the bees as I am reaching down to pick my vegetables. LOL Last year I did notice there were more bees. I'm not sure if that is the case in most areas or not. I look forward to seeing how many bees I have this year. Thank you for stopping in, commenting and your vote! Have a wonderful day! :)

Kasman profile image

Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

I have been noticing a decline in honeybees lately but not necessarily in pollen count. Interesting as I hadn't paid much attention to it until I ran across this hub. Very well researched, I didn't know bees and wasps were full blown related. Voting up.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi moonlake. The decline of honey bees is a concern. I have tried more natural types of insect control on my garden to help with the pesticide part of the issue. I have tons of flowers for them to snack on and don't ever swat them. I hope to see more honey bees in my gardens this year than last. Thank you for your comment and vote! Have a wonderful day! :)

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

It is a worry thought that honey bees are declining. The big problem is not knowing for sure why they are disappearing if they knew why maybe we could help. Voted up.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello again YogaKat! :) I used to never think much about swatting at a bee that was buzzing me, but now I will just move away or let him be as we need to bring our bee population back to better numbers. I appreciate your leaving your flower buds for our bees, I'm sure they appreciate it too! Thanks for stopping in and commenting! Have a wonderful day! :)

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

Another reason to buy organic produce. That list gets longer and longer. Thanks for drawing my awareness to the honeybee plight Sgbrown. I notice a honeybee hovering around my basil bush every day. I keep pinching off flower buds . . . but now I will leave a few for my winged visitor.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Sharkye! I think it is great that you are really helping out the bees. I noticed a lot of bees on my crype myrtle yesterday. I plan on planting more of them. The bees really like my vegetable garden too. That's cool that you are saving up for some bee hives. I think there are some hubs on here that may give you some information on that. Good luck! Thank you for your wonderful comment and share! Have a gret day! :)

Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 4 years ago from Oklahoma

Terrific hub. Bees are a subject very close to my heart. I was raised to believe that honeybees are lucky and practically sacred. I planted a variety of flowers this year specifically for the bees, and am in the process of saving up for some hives. Thanks for sharing this!

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello mvillecat! We have had a garden for the last 26 years now and I have seen a dramatic drop in the number of honey bees. If the number of honey bees continues to drop like this, we are going to be in trouble. We need to do what we can to help. Thank you for reading and commenting, it is always appreciated! Have a wonderful day! :)

mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

This is right on target. It is very scary how this is happening. I am trying to grow a large amount of the food we consume and it is very apparent due to the lack of polination of our veggies that something is not right. Thanks for this hub.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Audra! I hope people realize that if we loose our bees, we are going to be in big trouble! Thank you for your kind words and for visiting my website! Have a beautiful day! :)

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iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

People do not realize how important bees are. You piece was very interesting. Your pictures are fascinating and so vivid! Voted up and shared! ps...your website is terrific!

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi alocsin! I have noticed a big decline in the honeybees in our garden last year. I hope I see more this year. I try not to use harmful insecticides, going to try harder this year. We will be in BIG trouble if we loose our honeybees. Thank you for reading, commenting and voting on my hub. It is always appreciated! Have a Bee-utiful day! :)

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

This is a big concern of mine and I'm hoping it's only temporary and not the start of a trend. Voting this Up and Interesting.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Nomascus. Yes, bees are a very important part of our world. I hope we are doing enough to save them from destruction. Thank you for your kind comments and have a beautiful day! :)

Nomascus concolor profile image

Nomascus concolor 4 years ago from A Country called Earth

Bees are vital to biodivesrsity! Another great hub sgbrown, thanks for sharing.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello prasetio. Nice to hear from you again. :) If the honeybees completely disappear it would be devastating to the entire human race. We just can't let that happen. Thank you for stopping by and reading, commenting and voting on my hub, it is always appreciated! Have a wonderful day. :)

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi uzma. This problem is getting more attention now, but I thought this would be a good time to write a hub on it as some of us are going to be using insecticides on our gardens. Thank you so much for reading, commenting and sharing my hub! It is always appreciated. Have a wonderful day! :)

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Peg! Always good to hear from you! :) I noticed a decline in the bees in our garden the last two years and was wondering why. We really need to try to re-populate our bees as well as cut back on the pesticides. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Have a great day! :)

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

I can't imagine if the honey bee will disappear from the earth. We can't see the beautiful flower and the plant population will end. But, I hope this wouldn't happen. Thanks for writing and share with us. Good job and rated up!


uzma shaheen profile image

uzma shaheen 4 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

oh! I was unaware of this delining bee problem, thank you very mucg for sharing this valuable information. i am going to share this hub.voted up.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Very interesting topic that should concern us all. Thanks for the explanation. I had heard of this and wondered what was happening to the honeybees.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you nextstopjupiter! I am glad you found my hub interesting. I will try google translation, thank you for the link. I appreciate you stopping in and reading my hub. Have a great day! :)

nextstopjupiter profile image

nextstopjupiter 4 years ago from here, there and everywhere

Thanks for this hub! Some days ago I found this article related to your hub, unfortunately only in German, but you can try google translation http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/0,1518,82...

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Rebecca. Thank you for your kind words. I have really noticed a decline in bees in our garden in the last 2 years. Losing out bee population could be very dangerous to our economy. We need to help where we can. Thank you for stopping by, it is always appreciated! Have a wonderful day! :)

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Awesome Hub. Very interesting and of value. I know I will have this declining bee problem in mind concerning using pesticides

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