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Bee Conservation
Episode 12721st December 2021 • My AP Biology Thoughts • Hopewell Valley Student Publications Network
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My AP Biology Thoughts  

Unit 8 Ecology 

EPISODE TITLE: Conservation of Bees

Welcome to My AP Biology Thoughts podcast, my name is Alex, here with Raelynn and Samiyah and we are your hosts for today’s episode, coming from Unit 8 - our Ecology unit. Today we will be discussing bee conservation.

Why are bees important to the environment?

  • According to the US Department of Agriculture: “One out of every three bites of food in the United States depends on honey bees and other pollinators. Honey bees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops each year, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables. Managed honey bees are important to American agriculture because they pollinate a wide variety of crops, contributing to food diversity, security and profitability.”
  • Pollinators - support plant populations
  • Food crops as well as wild plants

Why are bee populations declining?

  •  “Declines in bumble bee species in the past 60 years are well documented in Europe, where they are driven primarily by habitat loss and declines in floral abundance and diversity resulting from agricultural intensification.” (According to researchers from the University of Stirling)
  • loss of habitats because of farming + urbanization
  • Habitat fragmentation can impact surviving populations through genetic isolation (which causes inbreeding and makes population less genetically diverse, making them more susceptible to diseases)
  • University of London (an issue of Apidologie): habitat loss is the “most universal and high impact factor driving bee declines.” 

  • Climate Change
  • University of London (an issue of Apidologie): Change in temperature and weather patterns due to climate change can significantly impact bee populations
  • Additionally, loss of habitat due to rising sea levels can also cause negative impacts 
  • stats
  • University of Maryland: October 2018 - April 2019: 40% of honey bee colonies in US died
  • Many other insect populations in decline, evidence of a possible 6th mass extinction (“biological annihilation”)
  • Pesticide use massively impacting bee populations and reproductive rates
  • 44% fewer offspring in bee populations affected by pesticides in both youth and adulthood, according to scientists at the University of California
  • These pesticides (neonicotinoids), while banned in many wealthier countries, are still used in and exported to low and middle income countries
  • Varroa mite
  • Colony Collapse Disorder 

Bee conservation attempts:

  • Researcher Winfree from Rutgers University
  • Formal protection of threatened species - according to data an approximated 95,000 insects in general are in risk of extinction, however only 771 have been evaluated for candidacy on the global Red List. No bee species is listed under the US Endangered Species Act, even though many species are known to be rare and declining at a steep rate. An important step for the conservation of bees requires them to be identified as organisms that require protection
  • The National Resources Conservation Service, an agency that operates under the United States’ Department of Agriculture, has begun working with “agricultural producers to combat future declines by helping them to implement conservation practices that provide forage for honey bees while enhancing habitat for other pollinators and wildlife and improving the quality of water, air and soil.”
  • Some of these measures include planting cover crops, wildflowers, and native grasses, along with improving management of grazing lands. 
  • University of Nevada: researchers identified a disease (American foulbrood (AFB)) that affects honeybees. In order to protect the bees, researchers have found a virus that attacks the disease and have successfully lowered AFB levels. 

Connection to the course:

  •  Trophic cascades - no bees = plant species dying off
  • Keystone species
  • Harder to farm reliably without pollinators

Thank you for listening to this episode of My AP Biology Thoughts. For more student-ran podcasts and digital content, make sure that you visit!

Music Credits:

  • "Ice Flow" Kevin MacLeod (
  • Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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Bees. National Wildlife Federation. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2021, from

Brown, M. J. F., & Paxton, R. J. (n.d.). The conservation of bees: A global perspective - Apidologie. SpringerLink. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from

Goulson, D., Lye, G. C., & Darvill, B. (2008). Decline and conservation of Bumble Bees. Annual Review of Entomology, 53(1), 191–208.

Guardian News and Media. (2021, November 18). Bee-harming pesticides exported from EU despite ban on outdoor use. The Guardian. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from

Kate Baggaley | Published Nov 23, bees pesticides Pollinators Science, Bees, Pesticides, Pollinators, & Science. (2021, November 22). Pesticides leave a lasting mark on pollinating bees. Popular Science. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from

Ramaswamy, P. by D. S., & T, G. (2017, February 21). Reversing pollinator decline is key to feeding the future. USDA. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from

UMDRightNow. (n.d.). US beekeepers lost over 40% of colonies last year, highest winter losses ever recorded. EurekAlert! Retrieved December 8, 2021, from

Winfree, R. (n.d.). The conservation and restoration of wild bees.

Woodward, A. (2019, June 21). Last year, 40% of honey-bee colonies in the US died. but bees aren't the only insects disappearing in unprecedented numbers. Business Insider. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from