The COVID pandemic helped boost Michigan’s honey bee population

Honey bees play important role in Michigan

DETROIT – Honey bees are an essential part of our ecosystem and economy.

Over the years, bee populations have been falling, but experts say the COVID pandemic may have worked to help the bees.

It’s honey bee swarm season in Michigan. According to Timothy Paule Jackson and Nicole Lindsay, co-founders of Detroit Hives, we should have a bumper crop of honey bees this season thanks to COVID-19.

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“Most people were not out mowing their lawns, spraying chemicals, factories were shut down,” Jackson said. “More bees, more wasps and more butterflies.”

Dr. Jason Gibbs is an entomologist and assistant professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Gibbs did a bee census during his postdoctoral work at Michigan State University to gather baseline data on honey bee populations.

“Michigan has a fantastic landscape,” Gibbs said. “It’s actually a diverse state.”

The ongoing studies will help us understand what’s going on with the bees and keep track of the health of colonies.

“We found 465 species in the state,” Gibbs said. “Which is about 13 percent of the bees in the United States.”

Because bees are in better shape than previous years, this year we can expect to see larger and more abundant quantities of Michigan grown fruits and vegetables.

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