Utah is a great place for both honey bees and native bees. The southern half of Utah has about the same bee diversity as the eastern half of the United States. Utah has more than 1,200 species of native bees that serve important roles in both agriculture and the environment.
We invited Food & Agriculture Commissioner Kerry Gibson and State Apiary Inspector Stephen Stanko to help us learn more about bees.
The Utah Apiary Program is the oldest continually operating apiary program in the country (an apiary is a a place where bees are kept). Beekeepers vary greatly in size from hobbyists with 1-2 hives to commercial operations that have tens of thousands of bee hives.
While everyone thinks of honey when they think of bees, the most important thing that bees do for us is pollination.
You've probably heard that bees are dying off or that honey bees are going extinct. According to the Stanko, the number of honey bee hives in the U.S. is slightly increasing and losses seem to have mostly leveled off. However, the number of honey bee hives is not growing fast enough to meet demands for pollination services, leading to higher prices for pollination services.
There are 2.3 -3.2 million honey bee colonies in the U.S. so they are in no danger of extinction anytime soon.
This is in contrast to native bees that, on average, are in more trouble.
For both honey bees and native bees the threats are the same and are often referred to as the 4 P's.
- Poor nutrition
So how can you help? One of the best ways to help bees is to plant flowers or a garden. Always read and follow the label when applying pesticides: the label is the law. Try to avoid pesticide applications to blooming plants.
You can learn more at: ag.utah.gov/plants-pests-beekeeping.