Too many honey bees?

In recent years, he and other beekeepers, as well as a broad variety of leading conservationists, have come to a very different conclusion: The craze for honey bees now presents a genuine ecological challenge. Not just in Slovenia, but around the world.

“If you overcrowd any space with honey bees, there is a competition for natural resources, and since bees have the largest numbers, they push out other pollinators, which actually harms biodiversity,” he said, after a recent visit to the B&B bees…

Honey bees, it turns out, are a commercially managed animal — essentially livestock, like cows — and large beekeeping operations are remarkably adept at replacing colonies that die…“But that’s an agriculture story, not a conservation story,” Mr. Black said. “There are now more honey bees on the planet than there have ever been in human history.”



Weren’t the perpetual catastrophizors crying about 10 years ago because of a “mysterious” Bee die-off that would wipe out the food supply? Now it sounds like somebody wants to pull an Enron to increase the price of Bees.


I have volunteered in the Pacific Northwest Bumblebee Atlas for 5 years. This is a citizen-science study supported by the Xerces Society and other conservation groups. I have helped establish the presence of the rare Western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis) on the Olympic Peninsula.

The Bumblebee Atlas studies the populations of native bumblebees which pollinate native plants. Unlike native bumble bees (and many other species of native bee), honeybees (Apis mellifera) were originally imported from Europe and are raised as livestock by humans.

A typical bumblebee nest contains 300 or fewer members while a honeybee hive can contain 30,000. Honeybees compete with native bees for floral resources.

Bee lovers should plant bee-nourishing flower plants in their organic gardens to help bees. That will provide for wild bees of all species, including feral honey bees as well as our native bees. I have planted perennials in my garden that bloom from March through September. Bumble bees are furry and cold-tolerant so the early-blooming heathers and lungworts are important for emerging queens.



I think have identified the real problem. It is not that there are too many honeybees. It is that there are not enough flowering plants to support the pollinators that we need.


Same problem 8 billion humans have. Nature’s solution is to prune the excess. Listening to a recent podcast it seems that the lower birth rare is doing just that. What we need to do now is to change the outdated economic model of perpetual growth and mandatory 2% inflation (growth by other means).

The Captain


Colony Collapse Disorder and Varroa mites are real things that almost wiped out the commercial honey bee business in the early 2000s. Then the warning went out, a ton of studies were done, and methods have been developed to adapt. But the danger is still out there as Varroa mites and whatever causes bee colonies to suddenly collapse are evolving as living things inevitably do.

In the past year it is estimated that 48% of commercial honey bee hives were lost in the U.S. The year before that it was over 50%. The only reason honey bee numbers have remained steady is because of intense efforts by beekeepers to split and create new hives. But a 50% annual hive loss is not commercially sustainable long term. In addition and probably related to global warming, the honey production per hive is in decline.

The threat to honey bees is a real and present danger that is only just being kept at bay in the U.S.

But hey, why let ignorance stand in the way of a good conspiracy theory.

USDA ERS - Chart Detail.


Have you sent a note to the NY Times about it?



Why? The NYtimes story describes the success of science and conservationists at saving the honey bees. Global honey bee populations are high today precisely because conservationists identified the problem and found work arounds some of which is noted in the article. My criticism is of folks like you who use such stories to imply that the false narrative that the original concerns of a bee population catastrophe were false and thereby criticize the conservationists.

Those implications are born primarily out of ignorance, particularly from those who believe that the ability to Google is equivalent to having a doctorate.


You seemed to be saying that the NYT was supporting a conspiracy.



I didn’t get that at all from btresist, especially since btresist was quoting another poster who did not reference the NYT in his remarks.


Nope. I am saying that people are using the NYT article to suggest a conspiracy or, in your case, to chip away at the credibility of conservationists who identify legitimate ecological concerns.

The NYT article does not suggest that the bee problems causing alarm in 2006 were anything other than genuine. Nor does it suggest that the conservationists were wrong in sounding the alarm. What is described is that the response of increasing the number of hives may have gone too far in some areas. Therefore, conservationists are sounding alarm in those areas to stop adding hives and to focus instead on landscaping to support wild bee populations. I have no problem with that.

Conservationists are trying to save the planet. We should support them rather than spread baseless conspiracy innuendos.


When we did our landscaping, we included a wide variety of pollinator friendly perennials and annuals. Fun watching all the activity and all the different visitors you get all season. I’ve seen about a dozen different types of bees. I remember reading there are about 4000 native bees in North America but people only think of honey bees and bumble bees.

On a tangent, have planted milkweed/butterfly weed and have seen a monarch caterpillar.


… but people only think of honey bees and bumble bees.

And honey bees are not native to NA. From the Wikipedia entry on honey bees:

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@captainccs has written that human intelligence is based on “pattern matching”.

Many people look at a “thing” and identify (match) it down to easiest, most relevant “pattern”. I find many people label all bees, wasps, hornets with the same label. That’s the “pattern match” they value.

Evolution might explain? Those who most quickly recognized a “dangerous” pattern, avoided injury?

Many people “pattern match” spiders and snakes. If it (to them) looks like a spider, then it is DEADLY! And hysterics ensue. If it (to them) looks like a snake, then it’s DEADLY and hysterics ensue.

A girl I knew 50 years ago was bitten by a dog. For years afterward, if she saw a dog, she pattern matched and was terrified.
Is PTSD a “pattern match” process? Ie, a person encounters a situation and “pattern matches” it to some “terrifying/horrible” memory? And responds with an inappropriate action/response?

Me and colors. I used to “pattern match” a color to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, white, black. If pressed, I might go a more descriptive shade… but mostly, when I just “looked”, I did not easily or automatically distinguish shades or variations.
Discussing “colors” with an artist friend who can “color match” paints really well, he described what he saw “in a color”. He had had the ability to automatically,
unconsciously “see” very specific colors since forever. He didn’t realize that I didn’t also automatically “see” those variations.
I went to Home Depot and Lowes, got a bunch of the color swatch cards. He and I spent some time using them like “flash cards”. And we would pick a color on a car, billboard, etc, and discuss the subleties. I LEARNED to see the subleties. Today, when I see a color, I “pattern/color match” it much more effectively.

Just like people who are educated on spiders and snakes… pattern matching can be fine tuned.



After almost two decades of relentless colony collapse coverage and years of grieving suspiciously clean windshields, we were stunned to run the numbers on the new Census of Agriculture (otherwise known as that wonderful time every five years where the government counts all the llamas: America’s honeybee population has rocketed to an all-time high.

We’ve added almost a million bee colonies in the past five years. We now have 3.8 million, the census shows. Since 2007, the first census after alarming bee die-offs began in 2006, the honeybee has been the fastest-growing livestock segment in the country! And that doesn’t count feral honeybees, which may outnumber their captive cousins several times over.



We could continue economic growth in the face of declining population with a Bitcoin and NIL-based economic system.

We just need enough people to drink the Kool-aid, like the 1980’s.


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I lived in a cedar sided house with three pine decks and oak trim all around until a few years ago.

Believe me, I thought about borer bees (carpenter bees) a lot. I also gave them a significant piece of savings, both in trying to prevent them from destroying the house, and in repairing the house when those efforts failed.

Is there a diff between these honey bees and the kind of bees that pollinate crops and other plants that we were told were “mysteriously dying” about 10 years ago and that would crash the world’s food supply? It was due to global warming then cell phones. When a cell phone rings it upsets their bee’ness or something and they died. Then the stories stopped and everybody kept eating as usual. I guess we got enough of those kind of bees now.


The problem is that the Kool-Aid never lasts and sometimes even kills you.

Do people routinely not read the links they post?

Honeybee populations are at an all time high because people took heed of the warning and many became beekeepers. This was particularly true in Texas, which provided tax breaks for even small-scale beekeepers. Problem is that colony collapse is still going on. Beekeepers have to replace the queen more frequently and if folks get tired of maintaining hives as often happens with fads, the decline of the pollinators will continue.

Read your links!

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