Marla Spivak, PhD, Professor of Entomology, University of Minnesota

Honey bees are our pollination workhorses— and they are overworked. To understand why America’s farmers need alternative pollinators, it is important to understand why honey bees are used so extensively for pollination and the hardships they and their keepers face in response to this demand. It is also important to heed lessons about the rewards and challenges of keeping honey bees healthy in our modern agricultural and urban environment so we do not make the same mistakes in rearing other bees. Given how critical bee pollination is to agriculture, we absolutely cannot take any bees for granted.

Although some information is given in this chapter on how to keep bees healthy with minimal chemical inputs, the following pages are intended to help readers understand the current plight of honey bees, not to provide a primer on beekeeping. Such information is well covered in other books (see Bibliography).