Foundational Challenges

*Video from Bloomberg and Betterbee.

Honeybees are dying

*Graph sourced from

According to a survey conducted by the University of Maryland and Auburn University, beekeepers lost 48% of their colonies in the year that ended on April 1, 2023. This was the second worst year on record for the deaths of honey bees in the United States.

Read the survey info here

Colony loss seen in UAE, Canada, and Europe

In the United Arab Emirates, beekeepers in 2023 produced half as much honey as they did five years ago.

Canada saw a 17% loss in hives over the winter of 2022 - 2023.

Central Europe saw a 12% loss in hives over the winter of 2022 - 2023.

Varroa destructor is the main pathogen killing honey bees

*Graph sourced from The Global Survey of Honeybees and Other Pollinators by the UN

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Varroa destructor is responsible for 29% of all honey bee losses.

Read the full report here

New Zealand bee colony loss

New Zealand’s bee colony loss was at an all-time high in 2021, with 2022 being a close second.

Read more here

Healthy bees means food security

According to Berkeley University, “in North America, pollination is integral to the production of at least 90 commercial crops, which account for 15-30 percent of the typical American’s diet.” This means one third of all the food eaten in America exists because of pollinators.

According to Relief Web, there was a 10% increase from 2022 to 2023 in the number of people experiencing food insecurity globally. This translates to 238 million people facing high levels of acute food insecurity globally.

Healthy bees means a healthy planet

Bees and pollinators are keystone species in our ecosystems. This means that many other species rely on their success, and their failure could cause the failure of a network of species.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, “honey bees alone pollinate 80 percent of all flowering plants, including more than 130 types of fruits and vegetables”. ‍

Healthy bees means economic success

In 2017, AAFC estimated “direct losses” of honeybee colonies at $2.57B. In that same year they estimated crop production loss at $4 to $5.5 billion. At current market values, this would represent $500B in global production losses.

Bees are responsible for $15 - 30B of productivity per year in the U.S., with $4.8B being attributed to the almond industry alone, according to research from Berkeley University.

NRCS is Investigating Other Microbial Pathogens

NRCS’s research and the application of natural, plant-based extracts are also showing positive results in the control and eradication of other microbial pathogens. This can be applied to foundational challenges with antibiotic resistance, synthetic pesticides, biofilm, and synthetic disinfectants across several industries.

Antibiotic resistance

"In 2019, 1.27 million people died as a direct result of antimicrobial resistance."- World Health Organization
The abuse of antibiotics is a public health concern.  Over the years there has been overuse and misuse of antibiotics in disease treatments of animals and humans. These behaviors have accelerated the generation of superbugs (antibiotic-resistant bacteria).

Synthetic pesticides

According to the Guardian, “There are over 1000 active cases filed against Monsanto for cancer caused by the use of Roundup (a lymphoma-causing pesticide), three of which have concluded that Roundup is responsible.”

Synthetic pesticides are dangerous and persist in the environment for indefinite periods. Pesticides are one of the leading causes of death in pollinators and can also cause severe human health issues.

Biofilm, an underlying microbial challenge

Biofilm is a layer of bacteria that can adhere to any surface.  A typical example is the bacteria that gets left behind after non-thorough cleaning, and creates its own protective layer. This protective layer is made up of complex extracellular polymeric substances, a matrix which is generally composed of eDNA, proteins, and polysaccharides, and shows high resistance to antibiotics. Biofilm is one of the major causes of infection persistence.

Synthetic disinfectants

Recent evidence from peer-reviewed studies and articles have raised concerns about synthetic disinfectants (QUATs – quaternary ammonium compounds) and their potential long-term side effects on reproductive and developmental systems (as evidenced in animal research).

In a study published by the American Chemical Society, several researchers showed very rigorously that certain aspects of the human brain, the oligodendrocytes, are vulnerable to these cleaning compounds.
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