Sample Agricultural Studies Paper on Health of Honey Bee Colonies.

About one-third of what we eat directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee
pollination (Kaplan) . Food crops such as almonds, blueberries, cherries, and melon depend on
honey bees for pollination to produce their fruits. Other crops would yield significantly less
without honey bee pollination. According to the American Beekeeping Federation, honey
bees contribute more than $14 billion to the value of U.S. crop production in the form of
increased yields and high-quality crops for growers and consumers (Needham) .
In the winter of 2006, some beekeepers in the United States reported losing 30 to 90
percent of their hives, unusually high percentages of loss. Beekeepers and scientists
investigated the colonies and discovered that nearly 50 percent had common symptoms that
included the sudden disappearance of the colony’s worker bees, though very few dead bees
could be found near the colony. The queen bee and young bees remained, and the colonies
had plenty of honey and pollen reserves. However, a colony without enough worker bees
cannot sustain itself, so the findings were alarming. The scientists studying the problem
called it Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) (Loy) .
In 2007, the National Research Council published a report documenting the decline of
pollinators, including bees, birds, bats, and insects (Board on Life Sciences) . The report
identified factors putting stress on bees and possibly contributing to CCD, including pests,
poor nutrition, exposure to pesticides, bee management practices, and low genetic diversity.
As researchers began to identify problems for bee colonies and develop measures to
improve bee health and habitat, beekeepers began applying their recommendations. For

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example, varroa mites are a significant threat to bee colonies. They kill bees directly and
spread disease to others. Because varroa mites did not appear in the United States until the
1980s, beekeepers only recently began using treatments to combat the mites. These
treatments are now part of regular beekeeping practices (Kaplan) .
Proper nutrition and diet can help bees withstand threats such as varroa mites and
pesticides. “Bees need a varied diet of different pollens in order to grow into strong, healthy
workers,” explains Dr. Heather Mattila, a biologist at Wellesley College (Hall) . Meadows,
prairies, and other expanses of wildflowers are the best sources of pollen. Beekeepers can
also provide pollen supplements to help restore and sustain bee colonies. 1
As a result of research and efforts by scientists, government agencies, beekeepers, and
farmers, reported cases of CCD in the United States have declined substantially over the last
five years (Sullivan 12) . The primary gauge of bee health is winter survival, the number of
hives that survive over the winter months. Although still higher than desired, the percentage
of lost colonies dropped recently from 28.7 percent to 23.1 percent. Of these, only 30 percent
were attributed to CCD.
Because honey bees are biological indicators, meaning that their health reflects the
general health of the environment, these trends are good news for all Americans.

1 Additional protein is also helpful.

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