Annual losses of entire honey bee colonies from the winter of 2006-2011 averaged about 33 percent each year, with a third of these losses attributed to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) by beekeepers. The winter of 2011-2012 was an exception, when total losses dropped to 22 percent. Can you imagine the uproar if dairy farmers or cattle ranchers began losing 22-33 percent of their livestock each year?
Bees have been on this planet for about a 100 million years. Before 1980, honey bees in the US pretty much took care of themselves. All of that has changed for several reasons:
As of 2016, the cause of CCD has not been determined with certainty. It is suspected to be the result of multiple factors which together have stressed and compromised the immune system of the honey bee as well as other insect pollinators.
Bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value in the United States each year. About one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination. Commercial production of many specialty crops like almonds and other tree nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables depend on pollination by honey bees. These are the foods that give our diet diversity, flavor, and nutrition.
Find the answer to your question here.
A wasp is any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant - the point of this is that wasps, bees, and ants are closely related. Yellow jackets and hornets are common wasps and belong in the family Vespidae. Wasps are the lions of the insect world - they have smooth stingers and are predatory meat eaters.
Bees are flying insects known for their role in pollination. Whereas wasps are predators - getting their protein from attacking other insects, bees are vegetarian - bees depend entirely on flowers. Bees get carbohydrates from nectar and protein from pollen. The most familiar bee, the honey bee, represents only a small fraction of the roughly 20,000 known species of bees. In addition to honey bees, there are bumble bees, carpenter bees that drill tunnels into wood, stingless bees in Central America that have a nasty bite none the less, and sweat bees that can be obnoxious (when you are sweaty) but are beautiful to look at. Most bees are solitary and live in nests in the ground.
A honey bee belongs to the genus Apis and known by its production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests from wax. There are seven species of honey bee. The one found in the US came originally from Europe: the European honey bee or Apis Mellifera. A worker bee has a barbed stinger that she uses to defend the hive. Unlike wasps with smooth stingers that can be used repeatedly, a worker bee must die to deliver a single sting.
Honeybee or Honey-bee is an incorrect spelling of honey bee. The Merriam-Webster dictionary is wrong! According to the Entomological Society of America, "When a species is a true example of a particular taxon, that taxon is written separately". Stated differently, if the insect is what its name implies, write the two words separately. Otherwise run the two words together.
MABA makes that really easy. You can learn a great deal and establish a network mentors before you spend a dime on equipment or bees.
You can spend more or less but figure around $500 for a basic hive, equipment, and bees. If you can afford it, get two hives. Really. You will learn much more from observing differences between two colonies (they are like children - each with a different personality) and your likelihood of a total die-out is diminished.
Your education really begins with your new hives so you will spend more time in the beginning. Figure 30-40 hours for one or two hives spread over a year. Need to leave for a three week vacation? No problem. The bees can feed and protect themselves. As you become more experienced, managing the bees will take even less time. That is why so many beekeepers branch out into other aspects of beekeeping:
You get the idea. The minimum time required is pretty modest. But as hobbyies go, beekeeping provides a lifetime of exploration.