Honey bees are frequently in the press. Why do honey bees get so much attention?
Honey bees are a critically important beneficial insect species for agricultural and plant ecosystems, pollinating many of the flowers of fruits, vegetables and nuts grown and consumed. Although the need for honey bee pollination services has increased nationwide due to the market demand for insect-pollinated food products, over the last decade, the U.S. annual honey bee colony mortality rate has fluctuated between 30-45%, with some beekeepers losing half or more of their colonies every year (see BIP Annual Colony Loss Survey).
If I send you a photo, can you identify this bee/wasp/hornet?
Your best bet for insect identification is to contact your local extension office or bee club. In addition, there are insect ID apps and websites available to the public: iNaturalist, Discover Life, Entomology Today.
I want to keep bees in my backyard. I have questions about how to set up, clean, store and use my beekeeping equipment. I want to start a commercial beekeeping operation. How do I get started?
Your local bee club is your best resource for getting started. Mentors will be able to offer advice on a wide range of beekeeping questions. BIP produced a publication, Commercial Beeping: A Field Guide, for beekeepers wanting to expand their operations.
What threats do honey bees face?
Several critical factors threaten honey bees including poor nutrition due to land use change, pesticide exposure, and introduced pests and diseases.
Are Varroa mites a major threat?
Varroa destructor is an external parasitic mite that was introduced into the United States in the 1980s. The USDA National Honey Bee Disease Survey field samples and BIP’s varroa assessments made by Tech Transfer Team Field Specialists and citizen scientists indicate that mites, and the viruses they carry, continue to negatively impact US honey bee colonies. A majority of beekeeping operations in the US have mite loads in excess of damage thresholds during the critical fall months and our Tech Transfer Team regularly sees evidence of colony-level damage from varroa mites in many of the over 10,000 colonies they monitor each year.
What is the best way to monitor for mites?
The most effective mite monitoring factor is frequency. Monitoring throughout the season is critical for understanding mite population growth within your colonies. BIP’s Voracious Varroa webinar provides detailed information about protecting your hives from mites.
Are pesticides a major threat?
BIP works closely with a sister surveillance network – the National Honey Bee Disease Survey – which involves sampling wax or pollen in over 400 apiaries nationally each year and uses the trusted USDA/AMS National Science laboratory for pesticide analysis. A complete list of these findings are publicly available. BIP also offers pesticide sampling/analysis for all of its participating beekeepers and BIP is asked to conduct independent assessments on colonies that appear to be suffering due to an acute pesticide kill. In those cases, BIP performs a full colony inspection, taking pest, pathogen, pesticide and viral samples to rule out other causes of mortality.
Are honey bees declining?
Colony loss rates (mortality/turnover rates) are different from population decline. While many colonies are lost each year due to a number of factors, colony loss does not necessarily mean that honey bees are in decline. Beekeepers can make splits or bees can swarm to make new colonies so while there are turnovers each year, the population (overall number of colonies) remains stable. Replacing colonies comes at a great cost to beekeepers and should not be underappreciated.
What is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and does it remain a threat?
CCD was a cluster of events in space and time with unique features first reported in 2006. CCD is characterized by large, unusual die-offs in which thriving populous colonies would be empty within a few weeks with no dead bees in or around the hive. The following criteria must be met for colony loss to be attributed to CCD: Disappearance of most of the workforce, presence of brood (and queen), no dead bees in or around the colony, presence of food stores, delayed invasions by hive pests of robbing, and no high Varroa mite or Nosema infestation.
How do beekeepers protect honey bees and maintain colony health?
Monitor, monitor, monitor. You cannot change what you do not measure. Check out BIP’s honey bee health webinars and blogs for more specific tools for maintaining healthy hives. Commercial and sideliner beekeeping operations can participate in BIP’s Tech Transfer Team Program. Smaller scale beekeepers can participate in BIP’s Sentinel Apiary Program.
How does climate change impact honey bees?
One of the biggest impacts of climate change on honey bees is change in foraging resources over the landscape. As plants emerge at different times compared to years past, plant-pollinator relationships can fall out of sync.
What can the public do to reduce threats to honey bees?
The general public has some tools in their belt to help protect honey bees and these include reducing herbicide, fungicide and insecticide use, and planting pollen and nectar rich plants, shrubs and trees that flower at different times so that blooms are present spring to fall.
Where can I find the publication, Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Honey Bee Diseases?
Please check with your favorite bee supplier or BIP’s Pollen Basket to receive a copy as a donation thank you gift.
I am a researcher/grad student and am interested in using BIP data for my project. Is this possible?
Many of our data are available directly on our research portal. Please feel free to use them. Unless stated otherwise, BIP supports the reproduction and reuse of these results, publications, and figures for scientific and educational purposes, at no cost, provided that BIP’s ownership, copyright, and non-endorsement status are acknowledged. When citing any of the information, figures, or other material sourced from the BIP website, unless it has been published elsewhere as a journal article, please also include in your citation: the year published (when available), title, web address, and date obtained.
Data on BIP’s research portal are aggregated data. Can I see the individual responses?
BIP does not share personal identifying information. Given that personal identifying information can be generated from the combination of multiple independent information (e.g. number of colonies owned, state …), we use the precautionary principle to not disclose non-aggregated data publicly (our minimum aggregation number in published tables and figures is five respondents).
BIP has a policy for data sharing with collaborating researchers. Individuals interested in using data from BIP’s database will be required to submit a BIP Data Access Request Form which will be reviewed by the Data Management Committee. Researchers will be required to sign a Data Use and Confidentiality agreement with BIP upon approval of access to the data. In cases where it is deemed appropriate, the knowledge and consent of the individuals associated with the data may be required prior to the release of the information. To begin your request, please Contact Us.
We have developed a product that we would like to test in honey bee colonies. Can BIP help with designing and conducting research projects?
The Bee Informed Partnership periodically performs field trials or contract work for industry organizations, researchers and pharmaceutical companies. Our highly trained, impartial Technical Transfer Team Field Specialists will test new or developmental products, effectiveness in real world settings of existing products, or new management techniques. Additionally, our known expertise in epidemiological models and statistical analyses are utilized in several contracts with organizations who require analysis of portions of our annual loss and management survey to investigate hypothesis driven research. Inquire here about potential product tests and trials.
I am a Sentinel Apiary Program participant and the app is not working properly for me, who can I contact?
My hive monitor is not syncing with BIP’s maps. Who can I contact?
Our bee club would like to invite a BIP speaker to learn more about honey bee health. Who should we contact?
Please visit and review honey bee health speakers and topics on our Speaker Requests page to submit a request.
Does BIP grant interviews to the press? Can BIP staff be interviewed on podcasts?
Periodically BIP Board and staff members will participate in press interviews and podcasts. These are time consuming for us so we cannot accept the many offers we receive to address the media but we do consider each request on a case by case basis. Please use BIP’s Media Inquiry Form to make a request.
BIP has a photograph that I would like to use for a publication/presentation. How do I obtain permission?
Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) is responsible for all source data and holds the copyright for all information presented on BIP’s website. Unless stated otherwise, BIP supports the reproduction and reuse of photos, results, publications, and figures for scientific and educational purposes, at no cost, provided that BIP’s ownership, copyright, and non-endorsement status are acknowledged. When citing any of the information, figures, or other material sourced from the BIP website, unless it has been published elsewhere as a journal article, please also include in your citation: the photo subject, year published (when available) or accessed, photographer name (if available), and web address.
If photographer name available:
Photo Subject. © Year, Photographer, beeinformed.org
ex. Chalkbrood. © 2020, Rob Snyder, beeinformed.org
If photographer name unavailable:
Photo Subject. © Year, beeinformed.org
ex. Chalkbrood. © 2020, beeinformed.org
Are BIP webinars available to watch again?
BIP’s recorded webinars are available to watch at any time.
What are BIP’s funding sources?
The Bee Informed Partnership was originally funded through a grant from USDA-NIFA. We became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2014. As a non-profit all our Form 990 tax filings are publicly available. Our funding comes from various sources including federal and state grants, foundation grants, individual donors, corporate sponsorships, honey bee organizations and clubs. Please check back in early 2021 for our 2020 Annual Report.
I would like to donate to BIP. Will I receive a tax receipt? Can a donation be set up through an estate plan or stock? Do you offer thank you gifts (swag) for donations?
All donors receive tax receipts in early January for the prior year’s donations. If you have BIP in mind for your legacy planning or would like to donate shares of stock, please contact us. We also can accept donations of equipment for our fieldwork. If you would like thank you gifts with your donations, please visit BIP’s Pollen Basket.
I would like to donate to BIP a percentage of proceeds from sales of goods I produce. Can I use your logo? Can you post my logo?
As a nonprofit, it is very important to us to maintain transparency and impartiality among our stakeholders. BIP can accept donations provided there is no expectation to market or otherwise advertise on behalf of the contributing company in order to avoid any suggestion of endorsement or affiliation. On a case by case basis, BIP may be able to share your efforts to support us on our social media channels. For use of BIP’s logo to advertise that a share of proceeds is going to BIP, you will need express written consent from BIP and to clearly inform customers that the proceeds of their purchases go towards supporting BIP’s research and operations but in no way suggests BIP’s support, endorsement or sponsorship of said products. Upon receipt of a proceeds donation, BIP will provide the donor acknowledgement of the gifts and provide any requested tax documentation.
How are donations used?
Unless restricted by the donor to a specific project, funds receive by BIP are used to support education, outreach and services for beekeepers and the general public. Our small but mighty staff serves hundreds of beekeepers in person and thousands remotely. BIP’s major expenses include field equipment, travel to field sites, IT app and database development and research supplies and shipping. Please check back in early 2021 for BIP’s 2020 Annual Report for more details.
Are you hiring for any positions?
From time to time we post paid positions on our site. Please check back.
Does BIP have volunteer opportunities?
Many of our staff members work remotely so we do not have a centralized location for volunteers to assemble. If you have skills that involve computer-based activities that can be performed remotely such as desktop publishing, graphic design, or digital photo cataloguing, please reach out to us to inquire about volunteering for BIP.