There has been a slow decline in honey production per hive since around 2000 (see the graph above). There are several probable causes behind this trend, one of which is extreme weather events related to climate change.
Another probable, and currently more important, cause is the loss of the “forage resources” needed to feed bees.Valido and Jordano suspect that their findings in the Canary Islands are generally applicable to other ecosystems where honey bees are introduced, but point out that the specific impact of beekeeping on others locations may differ. As Americans' appetite for honey has increased over the past 20 years, cheap imports have arrived in the country.
And prices are artificially low, in part due to rampant fraud in the industry. Some honeys are diluted with other sugars and syrups; other honeys are processed to remove contamination, so that all the beneficial compounds are also removed. The collapse of honey bee colonies due to climate change and the use of insecticides threatens to ruin another year of honey harvests in France, warned French beekeepers Tuesday. The multiple interacting stress factors that negatively affect the health of honey bees have their origin in industrial agriculture and aggravate them.
Climate change caused by fossil fuels and man-made carbon dioxide has affected countless aspects of the planet's health, including honey bee populations. In fact, by many estimates, climate change is the main driver of the decline in the number of honey bees. These are the two main ways that climate change affects honey bees. Research indicates that climate change is reducing the natural habitats of honey bees and, as a result, their populations. In North America and Europe alone, bee territories have shrunk by about 200 miles.
Deforestation also aggravates this habitat loss. Together, climate change, the production of large scale commercial monocultures and overfelling, among other human activities, represent a disaster for honey bee habitats. In addition to climate change, the excessive use and indiscriminate application of toxic pesticides and other chemicals kill honey bees. Beekeepers across the United States reported that adult worker bees were leaving their nests, queens, larvae and resources for no apparent cause.
However, while renting colonies can be a lifesaver for beekeepers, engaging in industrial agriculture is not good for bees (Decourtye et al. Here I analyze the relationship between honey bee health and industrial agriculture, a complex ecosocial system whose biophysical components are characterized by large scale monocultures, the mechanization and generalization of non-agricultural inputs (e.g. for beekeepers in places where that is not the case, Raggio hopes to find a regenerative solution, especially since there is still no true organic standard for honey in the United States. I believe that beekeepers, researchers and relationships between beekeepers and researchers are able to contain that complexity.
At the same time, the company created an internal definition of regenerative beekeeping, commissioned a white paper on what regenerative beekeeping could look like, and created a working group on regenerative beekeeping to bring together actors from across the food system on the topic. Its intense proliferation provides a lucrative and predictable flow of nectar, perfect for honey bees and beekeepers to take advantage of, but plants also alter the native ecosystems.