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  • Writer's pictureJo Soria

Springtime Buzz: the U.S. Honeybee Population is Booming

Over the past few decades, honeybee populations have faced numerous challenges, including habitat loss, pesticide exposure, disease, and climate change. These factors have contributed to sharp declines in honeybee colonies across the U.S. and beyond, sparking concerns about the future of agriculture and biodiversity.


But now the Department of Agriculture is reporting a stunning comeback, with record numbers of domesticated honeybees leading the charge. What’s happening?


Honeybee on flower; U.S. honeybee population

One Million New Bee Colonies?

According to the new reports, yep. Almost a million new domesticated bee colonies have popped up within the last five years.


When we say “domesticated bees,” we specifically mean the captive honeybee colonies raised on farms, so these numbers don’t take the even larger feral populations into account.


And what’s sparking this significant uptick in domestic beekeeping? When agricultural analysts tracked the numbers by state, they found a new and unlikely honeybee haven in the small farms of Texas.


Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Including U.S. Honeybee Populations

Once the sixth-most bee-producing state, Texas has since soared into the nation’s top spot for domesticated beekeeping operations. This rapid explosion is primarily attributed to agricultural tax breaks the state began offering farmers who maintain bee colonies for at least five years.


Other states looking to prop up domesticated pollinator populations may consider Texas a case study for future agricultural incentive plans, and for a good reason: Texas now houses more domesticated bee colony operations than the bottom 21 U.S. states combined.


Bee on purple flowers; U.S. honeybee population

Time Will Tell 

Still, it’s not all sunshine and roses for the honeybee, or other pollinators, for that matter. Pesticide usage, poor soil quality, habitat loss, and other factors still threaten these keystone populations.


On top of that, domesticated honeybees themselves pose a potential threat to feral pollinators, and novice beekeeping operations don’t always have the expertise to maintain thriving colonies in the long term.


Like many other environmental issues today, the honeybee dilemma is a complicated balancing act between ever-diminishing resources.


How to Help the Honeybees

Fortunately, you don’t have to leave all your possessions behind and start a rural bee colony to support pollinators. Even adding a small, bee-friendly flower garden to your yard can offer an attractive habitat for native honeybees in your area. (Just remember to take it easy on the insecticides).


Flower field; U.S. honeybee population

Looking for some beautiful floral options for your honeybee haven? According to Country Living, bees love:


  • Black-eyed Susans

  • Chive flowers

  • Marigolds

  • Mint

  • Pansies

  • Peonies

  • Sunflowers

  • Zinnias

  • Lavender

  • Snowdrops


And more. Check out Country Living’s top list here.


 

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