This story was in Science Daily but also on many other news sources.
“Beekeepers across the United States lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2014 to April 2015”
Among hobbyists, it looks like varroa mite is a big factor. There is significant speculation about a variety of causes, but so far there is not a clear consensus. Pesticides are thought to play a role, but not every study agrees.
I have 2 active hives now, one with Italian honeybees and a second with a new colony of Russian:Carniolan hybrids. The Italians split and I was not able to catch the swarm, but the mother colony is flourishing. I have had 2 other hives with colonies that disappeared. I don’t know if those were colony collapse disorder, or other cause.
As a rank amateur, I still believe there is a role for resource and environmental stewardship. Without proof of benefit, but doing research in books and internet, these are the things I am doing to support pollinating insects.
I don’t use insecticides.
I plant pollen and nectar bearing shade trees. Over the past 3 years, I’ve planted 4 European Lindens, 1 American Linden, 1 Sourwood, and 3 Red Maples. I also planted a willow hedge for early pollen.
I did away with about 1/2 acre of my 2 are property’s grass, replacing with a wildflower meadow. The wildflower seeds were obtained from outsidepride.com, designated for my area. I am also in the process of adding patches of borage, clover, meadowfoam, phacelia (bee friend), and other pollen and nectar bearing plants.
My hives are organic. The honeycomb is not reused. The reason is, there is thought that reusing honeycomb concentrates insecticides in the bee colony.
I had my property registered with the state of Washington as a wildlife habitat. The reason for doing so was, in part, to avoid neighbors’ complaining about having a wildlife meadow. That may be excessive - two properties over is a pasture with donkeys, and 2 more properties over is a pasture with horses.
Honeybees forage an area with diameter of 3 to 5 miles. I can’t control what other property owners might do. I have neighbors who live very comfortably with chemistry. I hope that giving my honeybees, and other beneficial insects, a good environment on my property, I can at least dilute out the effects of what people further aflight might be doing.
I know there is a wide range of comfort on this site with insecticides and herbicides. I do not argue with pesticide users - nor will I - but I do think there is a place for organic orcharding and environmental stewardship.
As for how my orchard does without insecticides, it is early to say. I don’t have a commercial orchard with vast numbers of trees. I aim for disease resistant varieties when I can. I am experimenting with bagging. I get a lot of great plums, and we’ll see if I get a lot of apples this year. Peaches… we’ll see. Figs - usually get a lot, we’ll see this year. Cherries - usually quite a lot.