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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Managing Diseases and Pests of Honey Bees to Improve Queen and Colony Health

Location: Bee Research

Title: American Beekeeping Industry: Past, Present, and Future

Authors
item Zhang, Xuan -
item He, Shaoyu -
item Chen, Yanping

Submitted to: Review Article
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: March 20, 2012
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Citation: Zhang, X., He, S., Chen, Y. 2012. American Beekeeping Industry: Past, Present, and Future. Apiculture of China. 5:36-40.

Technical Abstract: European honey bees (Apis mellifera) are not native to the Americas but were brought to America by European settlers in the 1600s. In the 19th century beekeeping was revolutionized and became a commercially viable and profitable industry. Today, honey bees play a vital role in the U. S. economy by assisting in the pollination of about 100 commercial crops ranging from small farm fruit, vegetable, and berry crops to the massive almond industry, with an annual market value exceeding 14.6 billion dollars. Each year, US beekeepers move their hives to different foraging areas following seasonal nectar sources and agricultural needs. Honey bee rental for commercial pollination can provide about 65% of beekeepers' income sources. In addition, beekeepers earn extra income from harvesting hive products including honey, royal jelly, beeswax, cerumen, propolis, bee venom and pollen. Nevertheless, honey bee colony health has been declining due to heavy disease pressures particularly the introduction of a parasitic mite, Varroa destructor and the number of managed honey bee colonies has dropped from 5 million in the 1940s to only 2.5 million in 2010. Unfortunately, this decline has come concurrently with an increasing need for honey bee pollination. In California, the almond industry alone requires 1.5 million honey bee hives for pollination each spring. As a result, the expenses associated with pollination needs have increased dramatically and this in turn would lead to an increase in the costs of crop production and decrease in food supply. In order to manage the pollination crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched projects that aim to increase colony survival and availability for pollination and thus to keep up with the growing demand for honeybees and pollination services in the US. This review provides unique information for bee researchers, beekeepers, graduate students as well as others interested in bees.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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