Urban Environments Reduce Honey Bee Survival
A North Carolina State University project found that urban environments increase pathogen abundance in honey bees and reduce honey bee survival. Researchers selected 15 feral colonies, living in trees or buildings without human management, and 24 colonies managed by beekeepers in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The researchers analyzed the bee colonies to quantify the abundance and diversity of pathogens present and the bees’ immune responses to this pathogen pressure. The research team found that colonies closer to urban areas experienced greater pathogen pressure. The probability of survival in laboratory experiments declined three-fold in bees collected from urban environments compared to those collected in rural environments. The results of this study are critically important for developing approaches to protect the health of honey bees, whose numbers have been declining in the United States over the last few years.
NIFA originally published this impact in the NIFA 2015 Annual Report. Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.