A new drug has been approved to help America’s honey bees and keep that sweet nectar flowing to our tables. Not only honey, but bee pollen, royal jelly, beeswax, propolis and venom, all collected and used by people for various nutritional and therapeutic purposes, says Melanie McLean, DVM, from the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.
Last year, honey bees made more than 148 million pounds of honey—a value of $256 million. But, pollination of other crops is even more economically necessary, accounting for about $15 billion in added crop value. “Honey bees are like flying dollar bills buzzing over U.S. crops,” says Dr. McLean.
Many have been concerned about the life of the honey bee, with American foulbrood, a bacterial disease that kills bee larvae, spreading across the honey bee population. But, the FDA has recently approved a new drug to control this disease.
Although honey bees are not native to the U.S., they are now essential to many crops grown in the U.S. today. Honey bees were actually brought to the U.S. by European settlers, with the first honey bee colonies most likely arriving in the Colony of Virginia from England in 1622. Since then, they have become an essential part of the American agricultural community, with more than 90 crops relying on bee pollination. Approximately 1/3 of the food eaten by Americans depends on pollination by honey bees, Dr. McLean indicates, including apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, and almonds. “Without the industrious honey bee, American dinner plates would look quite bare,” observes Dr. McLean.
Read more about the honey bee on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.
Image: Wikimedia Commons