Contrary to what some environmental activist groups are claiming, data collected by the crop protection industry from the USDA, FAO and StatisticsCanada shows that bee populations even in intensely farmed areas of the world are increasing rather than rapidly decreasing.
According to USDA statistics, the number of honey-producing colonies has been generally steady for about two decades and has risen four of the last five years – including an increase of over 100,000 hives last year. The bee population is up nearly 13 percent since 2008, recovering after the initial findings of colony collapse disorder.
Canada's bee population has been rising for most of the last quarter-century, and Stats Canada data show that the honeybee colony totals for the past two years are the highest since 1987 (before a substantial drop associated with the arrival of Varroa mites). Over the past five years, there has been an 18 percent increase in the bee population.
Europe's bee numbers have been generally steady for the past two decades and have risen three of the past four years. According to data from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, the European bee population in 2012 was higher than it was in 1994. Also, the European Commission's recent Epilobee study found that 75 percent of the bee population experienced losses of 15 percent or less (a rate that is considered acceptable in the U.S.) during the 2012-13 winter. Only 5 percent of the bee population had losses of 20 percent or more, and these were all in northern areas during an exceptionally cold winter.
The world's bee population has been rising almost continuously for the past 50 years, according to FAO stats. There are almost 10 million beehives in the world now than in 2000 – an increase of 13.2 percent.