Refrigerated ‘queen banks’ could help save honeybees

Beekeepers in the U.S. reported an increase in honeybee deaths over the last year, possibly the result of erratic weather patterns brought on by a changing climate. Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

In the perennial search for a viable queen honeybee, many U.S. beekeepers replenish their supplies each autumn. But meeting that demand is increasingly difficult: Honeybee populations are in decline, partly due to climate change. Colony health largely depends on queens, and most U.S. queen producers are located in California, where rising temperatures and wildfires are becoming the new norm.

A peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Apicultural Research presents one possible solution in refrigerated “queen banking” — essentially keeping excess queen bees in temperature-controlled summer housing.

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