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Honey Bees in North America

In the face of ongoing reports of pollinator declines, honey bees are frequently the first bee that comes to mind. As a result, a tangible goal for some people has been to get a honey bee hive and hives have appeared in gardens and backyards, on rooftops, in parks, and in natural areas. This is well-intentioned and driven by a true desire to help pollinators, and on the surface, it makes sense—if bees are declining, it would seem that more bees in more places will help. Yet, these actions raise questions about the impact of honey bees and beekeeping on native bees, and whether getting a hive will “save the bees.”

This fact sheet provides an overview of the research and science about the impacts of the western honey bee, a species that is not native to North America, has on this continent's thousands of species of native bees, and offers steps to take that will help support all bees.

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