PUSH honey production in United States has been declining for decades. And not only because of the death of bees, which has affected many parts of the world, including Europe. The productivity of individual colonies is constantly decreasing, and for a long time neither scientists nor breeders could explain why. However, a new study by Penn State University researchers could provide an answer and point the finger at combined effects of climate change az human activities on availability wild flowers as the most likely explanation for the reduced honey production by American bees.
As he explains Gabriela Quindlan, the Penn State entomologist who coordinated the research, it is now increasingly clear that ongoing climate change is associated with a significant decline in bee productivity that began at least in the 1990s. However, the data available to date have been scattered, related to individual regions of the United States, and therefore not representative of the comprehensive phenomena occurring throughout the country. To delve deeper into this question, US scientists drew on numerous US government databases to gather detailed information on changes that have occurred over the past 50 years in beekeeping productivity across the country, in climate, in land consumptionin ‘use of herbicides and in soil productivity.
It is this last property, i.e. the ability of the soil of a given area to support plant growth based on its chemical-physical composition, that has been found to be most directly linked to bee productivity: across the Union, in both hot and cold regions, greater soil productivity was associated with greater honey production.
Overall, the results suggest that wind conditions and soil properties they allow us to predict the average productivity of each region of the United States. While phenomena such as land consumption (which reduces the green areas in which bees can collect nectar from which they can make their honey), the use of herbicides and weather forecast affect the annual variability of bee productivity.
The availability of wildflowers therefore appears to be the main factor in determining the volume of honey that each individual colony is able to produce. And phenomena that affect this resource are destined to positively and negatively affect colony performance. No wonder the presence protected natural areasand thus wild flowers, has been shown to be an element capable of increasing bee productivity.
“Our results provide important insights that can help improve the models that beekeepers use to predict honey production – emphasizes Quinlan – and conduct new experiments that allow farmers to better understand the ecosystem services provided by pollinating insects.”