Honeybee Impact

Last year, a Swedish study determined that honey bees outcompete native bees for nectar and pollen and spread their diseases to them as well. The study looked at 1km plots that had no honey bee hives, counted the native bumblebee populations, and introduced one honey bee hive in half of the plots.

Introduced honey bee hives reduced the population of the short-range bumblebees by 81%, proving that honey bees strip nearby pollen and nectar to fulfill their mission to feed the growing 1,000+ eggs laid per day by their queen.

Honey bee hives should not be located in conservation or restoration areas that are trying to recover their native bee populations.

We still appreciate the role that honey bees have played as our sophisticated farmland pollinators, but we also agree with the recent phrase that "raising honey bees to save pollinators is like raising chickens to help birds".

We know our domesticated honey bee well and it's time for us to get to know our world's huge diversity of bees. Honey bees have some drawbacks and other bees are better at pollinating certain plants than the honey bee. For example, alfalfa leafcutter bees don't mind tripping open the keel of an alfalfa flower, resulting in a hit on their heads. Because of this behavior trait, leafcutter bees are 15 times better at pollinating alfalfa than honey bees. Honey bees are also not able to buzz pollinate crops like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, blueberries, and cranberries. Bumblebees, carpenter bees, and some Agapostemon bees are wonderful buzz pollinators. 

It's time for us to stop assuming that the honey bee is a one-size-fits-all pollinator and to acknowledge the fact that we need to raise a variety of bees to pollinate our food.

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