TITLE: The Pollinator Predicament: What’s All the Buzz About? 

PUBLICATION: PestWorld Magazine, the official trade publication for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA)

DESCRIPTION: Cover article about how pest control companies are responding to the pollinator issue


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Pollinator health has remained a hot topic across the pest management industry for nearly a decade. It all started back in 2006, when beekeepers across the nation started reporting higher-than-usual colony losses. These elevated losses have been defined as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). 

“CCD refers to the sudden loss of a honey bee colony's adult population leading to death of the colony,” explains Richard D. Fell, Professor Emeritus with Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology. “We have no known cause for CCD, and it is best referred to as a set of symptoms used to describe this type of loss. Bee decline refers to much bigger problem related to a decline in not only honey bee populations but also other bee species. We have over 3500 bee species in North America, and there is evidence that some of these other bee species have declined in numbers.”

According to the Bee Informed Partnership, which monitors bee colony losses across the nation, the average total loss was 29.6% between 2006 and 2014. Preliminary results reveal a total of 23.1% of the colonies managed in the Unites States were lost over the 2014/2015 winter.

“Colony losses are not new, but what is new is the sustained high losses that we have seen on a yearly basis, starting about the turn of the century,” Fell says. “In Virginia we have been keeping record of annual losses since 2001, and they have averaged about 30%. We may have had high losses occasionally in the past, but not this sort of high loss year after year.”

Feeling the Sting from Bee Decline

Because pollinators play a vital role in the nation’s food supply chain, the U.S. government is not taking bee losses lightly. In fact, honey bees contribute billions of dollars in added revenue to our nation’s agriculture industry each year. However, the impact of bee losses expands far beyond the economic impact on beekeepers and reduced honey production. Because honey bees also play a key role in the pollination of many agricultural crops, hive losses are also negatively affecting U.S. growers. 

“Current estimates indicate that honey bees contribute over $15 billion in pollination value to American agriculture each year,” Fell explains. “Many of the fruits and vegetables we consume require bee pollinators to set fruit.”