bees and agriculture

Infographic: 21 buzzworthy facts

This well-researched and cleverly assembled infographic, 21 Buzzworthy Facts, is the work of Jake Lane of LawnStarter, Inc. I especially like that it doesn’t say anything about “one-third of all the food we eat” (I’m really tired of that), it does not try to glorify CCD as the next Armageddon, nor does it try to convince us that honey bees are disappearing, endangered, or otherwise threatened. Instead, he makes a solid, fact-based infographic that is fun to read. I hope you enjoy it.

21 Buzzworthy Facts About Bees

This infographic is brought to you by Lawnstarter


  • Wow. It would be awesome to have a poster of this for farmers’ markets.
    A little PR and education for consumers is a good thing,

  • Hi Rusty, I must admit I have been taken in by the doom-sayers. I thought that honey bees did pollinate 1/3 of our fruits and vegetables and that honeybees were in endangered by Nosema, Varroa, pesticides and other problems that bee keepers did not need to deal with in the past. Is there a resource that you would recommend to provide a reasonably un-dramatized view of the current health of the honeybee population in the US?

    • Brad,

      I can’t answer this thoroughly because I’m only allotted one lifetime and most of that is used up. But long story short, there are a lot of ways to measure a third: by weight, volume, number of species, caloric content, nutritional value, monetary value, etc. People who say “one-third” rarely say which one they mean and they are all different, so it is meaningless. If you follow the he-said/she-said back through the scientific literature, it’s more like animal pollinators are required for about 1/3 of plant species, and even this is a wild guess. But there are thousands of animal pollinators, of which bees are just a fraction, and of bees, honey bees are one species of about 20,000 named species and possibly another 20,000 unnamed.

      So, honey bees are a drop in the pollinator bucket. We use them in intensive agriculture because they are easy to move. You move the honey bees out of the field, dump on your poisons, and bring the honey bees back. You can’t do that with most other species, which is why honey bees have become so important to modern farming. But in the absence of intensive poisoning and large monocultures, the other pollinators can, and always have, done just fine. Unfortunately, in the system we have, it’s the native bees, butterflies, beetles and other insects that are in serious trouble.

      Yes, there are many honey bee diseases, but still the honey bees persist. The 20-year high number of colonies in the the US is a sign they are not on the edge of extinction or cataclysm. For more on this see: “The truth about honey bee decline.” If you have access to a university library, there are hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles on this subject.

  • There are excess or out-of-order words in the third line of your text, following the close of the parenthetical.

    “it not does it try to glorify…”

  • I have seen the studies that say the number of bee colonies are at an all time high. No doubt this is the hard work of beekeepers making splits to cover loses. I suspect they are making more splits to make up for potential future loses as well. One thing I don’t like about this study is that quantity is represented, but not quality. The number of colonies says nothing about the health and strength of each of those colonies. Given the struggles and percent of loses I would venture to guess these colonies are t very strong. I do a lot of live bee removal and I know I’ve certainly seen a decline in the quality of the colonies I’ve been rescuing and that’s in feral bees.

    • Hilary,

      That is certainly not true: honey bee colonies are not anywhere near an all-time high, they are at a 20-year high. Fifteen to 20 years ago, feral colonies were said to be completely wiped out in certain sections of the country. Now, ferals are found more and more often, and seem to be thriving. Reports of feral colonies 5 to 10 years old are no longer uncommon, something that unhealthy colonies wouldn’t be able to acheive. That honey bees, especially feral colonies, seem to be turning the corner is something to celebrate.

  • Yes, sorry. I meant the 20 year high referenced in the info graph. I’m just saying the number of hives doesn’t represent quality among those managed hives. So it seems kind of like a jump to say this statistic means they honeybee plight is improving. In regards to feral colonies, yes I’m sure compared to the dive they took when the mites arrived, they are doing better. I’m seeing a decline in health in terms of more recent years. It could be because of the CA drought.

    • Hilary,

      The drought could certainly have a large impart on their health. If the colonies are starving or lacking a balanced diet, they will not thrive.

  • When I read through the infographic, I too was pleased by the content, but was surprised to find that it had been created by “LawnStarter,” as lawns as they’ve been conceived by so many are so often strictly maintained as bee deserts. So I found the source of the infographic as puzzling.

    When I went to their website to do further investigation about their practices, I was quickly presented with a LiveChat window asking if I needed any help. I shared the above thought with the representative as to why I was visiting and he acknowledged that he could see where I was coming from. I suggested that “If LawnStarter genuinely wishes to do something valuable for bees, it would be to educate the public about allowing flowering plants such as clover to be as welcome in their lawn as anything else, and of course, not treating their lawns with herbicides. My 2 cents.” His response: “that’s actually great feedback, I’ll be sure to pass that along to content side of the building.” I hope he does.

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