honeybees in iowa

Where Are The Honeybees Going?

March 24, 2015


Can you remember the last time you were stung by a bee? Sadly, honeybees, crucial in the pollination of many U.S. crops and creation of delicious honey, are disappearing at a worrisome rate. In fact, after thriving for thousands of years, honeybee populations have plummeted by as much as 70 percent in recent memory. Discover why bee colonies have started dying in mass numbers today.

The Honeybee Basics

Honeybees are most active during the late spring and summer months. During this time, large groups of bees can be found swarming together to find a new place to create a nest. It takes about 24 hours for a swarm to find a new place to nest. The hive is typically located in the holes of trees or rock crevices. Hives are made of wax from a special gland in the abdomen of worker bees. The worker bees mold the wax to form the hive. Honeybees do not hibernate in the winter months. Instead, honeybees remain inside their hive, form a tight ball to share body heat, and eat shared food supplies.

Honeybees are social insects that often live in hives with up to 20,000 other bees. There are three types of adult honeybees that live in a colony: a queen, the workers, and drones. The queen bee is the largest female, and the only responsibility of the queen bee is to lay the eggs. She is capable of producing up to 2,000 eggs a day. Worker bees are female, find food, tend to the larvae, help build the hive, and clean. The drone bees are male and serve only one purpose in the colony, and that is to mate with the female queen bee. They die shortly after mating.

Problems Honeybees are Facing

The honeybees face health risks from a variety of different factors including new pathogens, nosemi fungi, Varroa mites, nutrition problems, lack of nectar sources and potentially sublethal effects of pesticides. Deformed Wing Virus, a common disease in honeybees, is associated with Varroa mites. Symptoms of Deformed Wing Virus include shortened abdomen, deformed wings, and discoloration. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a report in 2012 that suggested factors influencing bee health may include, "disease, arthropod pests [parasitic mites], pesticides, poor nutrition and beekeeping practices." They identified the Varroa mite as "the single most detrimental pest of honeybees and can magnify the role of viruses." Most scientists agree that the decline in bee health is a result of several causes.

Colony Collapse Disorder

The USDA states that honeybees have been under pressure from a mysterious disease known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Colony Collapse Disorder is defined as a dead colony with no adult bees or dead bee bodies but with a live queen and usually honey and immature bees still present. Varroa mites, a parasite that transmits diseases to honeybees, are often found in hives affected by CCD, but it is unknown if Varroa mites and Colony Collapse Disorder are correlated.

When Honeybees Become Pests

According to the Professional Pest Management Alliance, public health officials attribute the quality of life we have today to three things: better pharmaceuticals, better sanitation, and better pest control. Preferred Pest Control professionals understand that bees shouldn't be unnecessarily exposed to pesticides, unless it is for health and/or structural reasons. 

If honeybees have infested your place of residence or business, Preferred Pest Control can help. The colony will be removed and any leftover honey will be eliminated, preventing further infestation from other insects. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to exterminate your bee infestation.