Are Honeybees In Trouble?

Are honeybees really in trouble? I saw a video on Youtube of a lady giving a talk, I can’t remember the title or the exact amounts but apparently in 1945 there were around 4 million beehives in America, now there are around 2 million beehives in America & Americas population has more than doubled since then. I remember telling myself at the time that maybe the main problem could be that the number of beekeepers has declined since 1945.

Bees need beekeepers, if there are no beekeepers then I suppose you could say that beekeeping has a problem but it translates to bee bodies in the end. Aside from that the reports show that colony collapse is way up and insecticide/herbicide/fungicide use is way up as well. So it’s a combination of factors culminating to the end result of fewer bees, and all in all that spells a problem for the bees.

I agree Adam, the challenges for beekeepers, especially commercial beekeepers are far greater than they were in 1945. With 30% of the food we eat depending on bee pollination, I guess if the demand for pollination services increases & there’s a lack of beekeepers offering those services, well maybe the price will go up which might bring more people into the industry. I look after bees for a fruit farmer, I treat the bees like my own & keep the honey, he just wants the pollination, if anything happens to me, the beehives stay on his farm. He is very bee conscious with everything he does in relation to sprays. The bees are doing fantastic. They are the first hives I’ll be taking measures to swarm control in a couple of weeks time. So what we need are more “bee conscious” farmers.

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Some of the commercial guys in my club have told me due to the drastic shortage and loss of stock caused by a variety of factors mentioned earlier that they are getting $150 a hive to take bees to the almond groves in California for roughly 2 weeks…with 200 or so hives as most of these guys have, $15,000US a week is pretty decent money no matter who you are but it doesn’t seem to be drawing any additional interest that I can see. Compare that to the last data that I have, when my dad was doing commercial beekeeping in the late 70’s and early 80’s and pulling $12-15 a hive from the same almond orchards. That is a pretty significant increase.

Honestly I think it may be an issue of education and community involvement. Sadly the club I belong to is very set in their ways, its more of a social hour then a club looking to grow beekeeping. There is no community out reach, there is little to no mentoring, as far as I have seen no hands on training from veteran beekeepers to bring the newbies into the fold. I have actually been contemplating what it would take to start a new club to start doing just those things if I can’t influence the current members to start working towards those things. But I don’t feel I have enough hands on experience to do this with any confidence. Any way I digress, I don’t think my experience with my local club is probably all that uncommon in other areas considering the languishing numbers of new beekeepers.


Thanks Adam, I have never been in a beekeeping club, in the early days I was out at sea a lot plus it never occurred to me to look for one. I was lucky that three different experienced blokes were generous enough to answer my questions & share their knowledge, I had a small beekeeping book & what was in our World Book Encyclopedia. I lot of the things I share with people, knowledge wise, is from making mistakes, observing, trying to work out why the bees do certain things plus a lot of stuff I recently learned through the internet. I’m going to put one of those things into practice this afternoon. The strategy of moving a hive fairly close & keep them locked up for 3 days before opening the entrance. That IS a brilliant idea.

Just read this thread and what you say adagna is correct but a sign of the times. I belong to a lawn bowls club and the RSL and almost all executive positions are held by seniors 65Yrs Plus. I am 74 and occupy positions in both clubs because no younger members are interested. Young people are needed in all clubs to make them vibrant, unfortunately there is not enough of young ones wanting to take leadership roles.

The San Diego Beekeepers Society probably has an average age of over 60, but we do have some very dynamic youngsters with some pretty good ideas. Here is the web site of Hilary, who is quite innovative in her concepts, as you can see from her promotional video:

She also uses all mediums whenever possible in her hives, and prefers to use foundation-less frames, so she must be a Michael Bush follower. :wink: I think she is gradually changing the concepts of our club. The only problem is that she doesn’t think much of the Flow hive, but then she is young, so perhaps she can learn better! :smile:


I think it is the young with the dynamic ideas. Problem is how to harness that with practicality and not destroy the spirit. I live quite rural with nearest neighbour about 1.5 Km away but the district is just full of young farmers and I just love getting together with them because I learn so much from them. In another life I was an engineer so I try to make the process mutual by refining the ideas.

We have 11 and 12 year olds’ at our club as well as the oldies - I’m the average age in our club - there is often Grand children of various member come along and they have their own suits. So all good

You are lucky

You really do have young persons club.
Wow got the wink in but gee what a beauty (busso is laughing) I will master them.

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Towards the end of the year we had elections for the club officers, and the treasurer was stepping down so one of the younger girls in the club who just graduated with her masters in accounting stepped up to run and caused quite a stir in the club because she challenged the “shoe-in” who’d been picked by the old timers to step in. There were definitely some dirty looks getting thrown around that night esp for those of us in the club to dared to vote for the outsider. Politics… gotta love it. So while you are right the clubs need younger blood the set in their ways old timers are making not so hospitable for those of us who might be interested in taking on leadership roles in the club. I’m sure there are some clubs that actually are interested in bringing new blood in, mine just doesn’t seem to be one of them unfortunately.

Yes, we have the “House of Cards” at all level.

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The flip side of that is the first meeting I went to at the local club. And when the president got wind of my experience managing websites he was pimping out the job that first meeting ; -)

Most often it plays out how you describe but occasionally it goes the other way!

So many clubs run on retreads. It’s no wonder they get flat tires and stall out…

Probably not… we are the biggest problem bees have…

I guess what I was really trying to say is that people need beekeepers because people need bees. But I agree the bees themselves have no real need of us.


Agreed. People need beekeepers because people need bees.

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I think at this point in time (history), the bees DO need beekeepers. With Varroa in every country except Australia & SHB in all of the warmer climates, I wonder if the honeybee would make it into the 22nd century as a species without people. It appears that most of the wild hives are slowly disappearing.

I know where I live, we seldom hear of honeybees in trees anymore, we put that down to SHB.
Not that they are native to Australia. But I think that is a worldwide trend.

Us humans have a lot to answer for.

Ultimately nature finds a way. There might be massive losses as inferior traits make way for traits that help bees beat or coexist with these pests, but in the end some of the stronger hives will survive and pass their genes on in swarms and drones until varroa and SHB are no longer even issues to be talked about. But that will never happen as long as queens are inbred for traits that we “think” are important, and we poison them into oblivion with pesticides and GMO’s, and continue to treat them as a commodity rather then a partner.

Fortunately not all yet Jeff.
I’m so glad I’m able to start beekeeping here in the West without the troubles others face. Still got colonies happily living n trees around the neibourhood.
In fact if it wasn’t for Flow I wouldn’t be aware of how fortunate I am.
I’ve just registered our hives at the agricultural dept and encourage other hobbyist WA beeks to do the same to try and keep the pests in check.
My local council also wants to put their finger in the pie with a fee more than the Ag Dept. Penalties for not getting a permit from the council includes colony extermination. What a mob of muppets. I don’t think the two wild colonies in trees here got permits, naughty bees… With the state of the honey bee population beekeeping should be encouraged not punished.

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