The North American Bayer Bee Care Program announced Healthy Hives 2020, a major new initiative focused on finding tangible solutions that will improve the health of honey bee colonies in the United States in the next five years.

Healthy Hives 2020 was announced during an event April 27 to celebrate the first anniversary of the Bayer Bee Care Center opening. The initiative brings together a cross-section of bee health stakeholders from multiple sectors, including academia, government, agriculture, business and the beekeeping community to:

  • Better quantify the characteristics of a healthy honey bee hive;
  • Enhance collaboration, communication and partnerships to address honey bee health issues;
  • Identify and develop new strategies and tangible solutions that will improve colony health.

Healthy Hives 2020 is a Bayer CropScience initiative for improving the health of honey bee colonies in the U.S. by the year 2020. Bayer CropScience will partner with experts on bee health and establish an advisory council to discuss strategies to improve honey bee health.

Bayer CropScience is organizing a two-day workshop on June 2-3, 2015 with the goal of determining present honey bee health conditions in the U.S. and setting three tangible and assessable initiatives to improve honey bee health by the year 2020.

The best ideas from the inaugural meeting will become part of an action plan that will include sponsored research through collaborations with various organizations as well as research conducted directly by the North American Bayer Bee Care Center.

“While the overall number of honey bee colonies in North America is increasing, they are being impacted by a wide range of factors, including disease, lack of forage and invasive pests like the Varroa mite, among other major stressors,” said David Fischer, Ph.D., director of pollinator safety at Bayer CropScience. “The goal of Healthy Hives 2020 is to define the current status of honey bee health in the U.S. and establish priorities with measurable goals to improve the health of honey bees through collaboration with some of the country’s most recognized pollinator health experts.”

While the Healthy Hives 2020 council members will work to find solutions to improve honey bee health long-term, Bayer is also working to tackle one of the major issues facing pollinators today: lack of forage.

The Feed a Bee initiative is working with individuals and organizations across the country to grow 50 million flowers and to increase bee forage areas. As bees are working harder to pollinate crops, they need more food and food diversity.

“Honey bees play a vital role in the global food supply, pollinating one of every three bites of food consumed,” said Becky Langer-Curry, Ph.D., manager of the North American Bee Care Program. “As the world’s population continues to increase, the demand for pollination services will grow, so it is vital that we do all we can to help honey bee colonies continue to thrive.”

Continuing its more than 25 years of supporting bee health, Healthy Hives 2020 is one of several education programs sponsored by Bayer’s Bee Care Program. Bayer has:

  • Opened the North American Bee Care Center last year in Research Triangle Park, N.C., as a focal point for education, research and collaboration to improve honey bee health;
  • Welcomed almost 3,000 visitors to the center since it opened in April 2014;
  • Conducted two mobile bee care tours that reached 4,750 people and traveled more than 8,300 miles to promote bee health;
  • Created an annual award to recognize beekeepers who have used beekeeping to improve their local communities.

More information on Bayer’s bee health initiatives is at www.beehealth.bayer.us.