NC State Study: Genetic Diversity Key To Honey Bee Survival

Jun 18, 2013

Honey bees
Credit David Tarpy

Honey bee populations have been struggling in recent years. New research out of NC State underlines the importance of genetic diversity as key to the honey bees' survival. The study took samples from 80 commercial colonies used to pollinate about a third of the food we eat. It found queens that mated at least seven times were nearly three times more likely to survive the season.

Lead researcher David Tarpy is an entomology professor at NC State. He says multiple factors are likely contributing to the declining health of bee populations worldwide, including parasites and pathogens. Tarpy also says, "pesticide exposure or other environmental contaminants...even things like nutritional deprivation where they don't have enough forage and diversity of flowers to be able to collect nectar and pollen," are additional factors contributing to their decline.

The study is published in this month's German-based Naturwissenschaften, The Science of Nature.