Decreased availability of forage, as well as increased pesticide exposure, are important factors in the decline of honey bee health. Here, we isolate land cover transitions and their effect on honey production at 160 commercial apiaries in the Northern Great Plains. We found that land cover changes from 2008 to 2012 caused an annual decline in honey yields of 0.9% in the study area. Transitions from grassland to soybean (but not corn) were particularly detrimental to honey yields, potentially due to bee contact with pesticides within and around agricultural fields. When our results are applied to known apiary locations across all of North Dakota (U.S.A.), we estimate a 2.5% (1.6 million USD) decline in 2012 honey yields due to land cover changes occurring between 2008 and 2012. Even when controlling for changes in land cover, we found that on average colonies in the study area experienced a 14% annual decline in honey yields. We discuss possible explanations for these non-land-cover-related honey yield declines, including changing economic conditions (e.g. pollination services), changes in land management (e.g. pesticides), and increases in pests or diseases.
|Title||The contribution of land cover change to the decline of honey yields in the Northern Great Plains|
|Authors||David Smith, Amélie Y. Davis, Claudia Hitaj, Dan Hellerstein, Amanda Preslicka, Emma Kirkpatrick, David M. Mushet, Eric Lonsdorf|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Environmental Research Letters|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center|