Honey Bee Life Spans 50% Shorter Now Compared to 50 Years Ago

By Aazam

Colony loss and low honey production in recent decades can be explained by a reduction in the longevity of lab-kept bees.

Bees kept in a controlled environment have a 50% shorter lifespan than they were in the 1970s, according to a new study from the University of Maryland.

Bee colonies naturally age and die, making colony turnover an accepted factor in the beekeeping business.

American beekeepers have reported high loss rates over the past decade, meaning more colonies have to be turned over to keep operations viable.

In an effort to understand why, researchers have focused on pesticide exposure, environmental stress, parasites, disease, and nutrition

Anthony Nearman, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Entomology, lead author of the study. "It introduces the idea of ​​a genetic component.

If this hypothesis is correct, it also points to a possible solution. If we can isolate certain genetic factors, perhaps we can breed for longer-lived bees

Replicating earlier studies, the researchers collected bee pupae from the hive when the pupae were within 24 hours of emerging from the wax cells.

The collected bees in which they were raised ended up growing in an incubator and were then kept as adults in special cages

When the team modeled the effect of a 50% reduction in lifespan on beekeeping operations.

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