Fact Sheet: Bees

Fact Sheet:  Bees

While the population of all species has declined over the last few decades, the dramatic drop in the population of bees has increasingly been of concern because of the important role they play as pollinators. Without bees, many of the world’s most important crops would fail and directly affect the food supply of humans and countless other species.

FACT #1 There are more than 20,000 distinct bee species around the world, and more than 4,000 in the U.S. alone. For much of the past ten years, beekeepers, primarily in the United States and Europe, have been reporting annual hive losses of 30 percent or higher, substantially more than is considered normal or sustainable.[1] Also, 1 in 4 wild bee species in the U.S. is at risk of extinction.[2]
FACT #2 Many factors are influencing the decline of bees, including habitat fragmentation, increased use of neonicotinoid pesticides, colony collapse disorder, and climate change.[3]
FACT #3 Bees exist in all types of climates around the world, from forests in Europe to deserts in Africa–even in the Arctic Circle.[4] Unlike honeybees and their hives, wild bees in the U.S. live in many different places: under the ground, in holes, and in trees.
FACT #4 Some of the world’s bee species include carpenter bees and bumble bees in the U.S., the mining bee and the mason bee in the U.K., the Cape bee in Africa, and the Asian honeybee in Asia and Australia.[5]
FACT #5 Bees are indispensable pollinators of most ecosystems. There are 369,000 flowering plant species, and 90% of them are dependent on insect pollination.[6] Usually, a honeybee can visit 50-1000 flowers in one trip. Therefore, if each bee takes ten trips a day, a colony with 25,000 forager bees can pollinate 250 million flowers in a day.[7]
FACT #6 Many species of animal dependent on bees for their survival because their food source, including nuts, berries, seeds, and fruits, relies on insect pollination. Pollination not only makes food available for other organisms but also allows floral growth, which provides habitats for animals, including other insects and birds.[8]
FACT #7 In 2017, the rusty-patched bumble bee was added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species list, after a population decline of 87% in recent years.[9] Previously, Federal authorities added to the list seven yellow-faced bee species, Hawaii’s only native bees, for protection under the Endangered Species Act, a first for any bees in the United States.[10]
FACT #8 Crops pollinated by bees make up 35% of global food production.[11]
FACT #9 The global crop production pollinated by bees is valued at $577 billion.[12] Pollinators contribute $24 billion to the U.S. agriculture industry, making up a third of the food consumed by Americans.[13]
FACT #10 California produces 50-80% of the world’s almond harvest.[14] Spread across 800,000 acres, California’s almond orchards typically require 1.6 million domesticated bee colonies to pollinate the flowering trees and produce what has become the state’s largest overseas agricultural export.[15]

[1]https://e360.yale.edu/features/declining_bee_populations_pose_a_threat_to_global_agriculture

[2]https://wedocs.unep.org/rest/bitstreams/14378/retrieve

[3]https://phys.org/news/2016-01-complex-worldwide-bee-declines.html

https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/colony-collapse-disorder

[4]https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5306468.pdf

[5]http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/wildlife/wild%20bees%20identification%20guide.pdf

https://www.sabio.org.za/beecon/

https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/92903/AHB-fact-sheet.pdf

[6]http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36230858

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/native_pollinators/pdfs/Pollinators_in_Peril.pdf

[7]http://www.fao.org/tempref/docrep/fao/012/i0842e/i0842e04.pdf

[8]https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm309134.htm

[9]https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/rusty-patched-bumble-bee-put-endangered-species-list-after-trump-n736536

[10]https://apnews.com/6aa3e8d015f2465da8fe313e4abb94de/feds-list-7-hawaii-bee-species-endangered-first-us

[11]https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/20/fact-sheet-economic-challenge-posed-declining-pollinator-populations

[12]https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2016/12/pollinators/

[13]https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/20/fact-sheet-economic-challenge-posed-declining-pollinator-populations and https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm309134.htm

[14]https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/migratory-beekeeping-mind-boggling-math/

[15]https://e360.yale.edu/features/declining_bee_populations_pose_a_threat_to_global_agriculture