Since 2006 beekeepers have been noticing their honeybee populations have been dying off at increasingly rapid rates. Subsequently researchers have been scrambling to come up with an accurate explanation and an effective strategy to save the bees and in turn save us homo sapiens from extinction. Recent harsh winters that stay freezing cold well into spring have been instrumental in decimating the honeybee population in Iowa by up to 70% as well as the other historically high yielding honey states – the Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota. The northern Plains and Midwestern states that have regionally always produced the nation’s most honey have been severely hurt by the long harsh winters in the last couple years. Florida as the third largest honey producer and especially California always among the top producers have been hit especially hard by decreasing bee colony populations. In 2006 when the problem of bee loss first was noticed, California was right up at the top with North Dakota producing nearly twice as much honey as the next state South Dakota but its bee numbers have incurred such heavy losses that in 2011, though still second, California’s honey production fell by nearly half in just six years. The recent severe drought in California has become an additional factor driving both its honey yield and bee numbers down as less rain means less flowers available to pollinate.
Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) as this loss of bee phenomenon has been called is currently recognized as such an urgent crisis that a month ago Newsweek ran an article outlining the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement that it will provide a $3 million subsidy in order to help the one animal on the planet that will either make or break food prices. According to the latest USDA industry survey, this emergency plan assistance comes after nearly a third of commercial honeybees died last winter, a whopping increase of 42% from the previous year. The three million dollar giveaway program is designed to entice both Midwest dairy farmers and cattle ranchers to reseed their fields this spring with eco-friendly crops like alfalfa and clover to develop healthier habitats for increasing the national bee population. Farmers and ranchers only had until March 21st, 2014 to sign up and take advantage as eligible seedling recipients.