Are honey bees native to North America?

Honey bees are not native to North America. They were originally imported from Europe in the 17th century. Honey bees now help pollinate many U.S. crops like fruits and nuts. In a single year, one honey bee colony can gather about 40 pounds of pollen and 265 pounds of nectar. Honey bees increase our nation's crop values each year by more than 15 billion dollars.

Critical honey bee populations in the United States have been declining in recent years due to many factors, creating concern about the future security of pollination services in the United States. USGS researchers are looking into the effects of factors like land use change and chemical use on honey bee habitat to better understand how to conserve bees on the landscape.

While important in the pollination of some crops, honey bees are also significant competitors of native bees and should not be introduced in conservation areas, parks, or areas where you want to foster the conservation of native plants and native bees.

Learn more: Honey Bee Helpers: It Takes a Village to Conserve a Colony

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Image: Honey Bees are Valuable Pollinators

Honey Bees are Valuable Pollinators

Honey bees play a major role in pollinating the world’s plants, including those we eat regularly. However, land-use changes that decrease flower abundance can affect bee health and pollination services. Midwestern states are losing crucial native grasslands and conservation lands that have historically provided abundant flowers for honey bees and native pollinators.

Attribution: Ecosystems