Italian honey bees hover around the suit of beekeeper Robert Harvey as he transfers bee colonies from a blueberry field near Columbia Falls, Maine June 23, 2014. Adrees Latif/Reuters

In recent years, environmentalists have sounded the alarm on the increasing rate at which bees have been dying. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating over a quarter of the food consumed by Americans each year: everything from strawberries, watermelons, and apples to vegetables like carrots, avocados, onions and beans and nuts. Each year since 2006, there has been a reported loss of honeybees so great that researchers have coined the term “Colony Collapse Disorder” or CCD. The mass loss has been attributed to several factors including harmful pesticides and a virus that targets the immune system of the bees. A lawsuit has now been filed by environmental groups in the United States seeking an injunction restricting the approval of a controversial class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or ‘neonics.’

With a potential $15 billion loss in crops due to declining honey bee population, new initiatives have sprouted up in recent years to try to reverse a dying population. The issue of the dwindling honeybee population has even prompted the White House to establish the Pollinator Health Task Force this year in an attempt to reverse the loss of pollinators such as honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies.

 In the summer, photographer Andrees Latif followed beekeepers who have been trekking large crates of Italian honeybees across the country from one farm to another in the effort to pollinate crops.

All photos by Andress Latiff/Reuters


Beekeepers secure a cover over bee hives stacked on a truck as they prepare to transfer the bees to another crop after they completed pollinating a blueberry field near Columbia Falls, Maine June 23, 2014. Adrees Latif/Reuters

A colony of Italian worker bees congregate outside their hive while pollinating a blueberry field near Columbia Falls, Maine June 22, 2014. Adrees Latif/Reuters

Robert Harvey, a beekeeper or apiarist, is illuminated by lights from machinery as he transfers Italian honey bee colonies to fields of crops for pollination, near Columbia Falls, Maine June 23, 2014. Adrees Latif/Reuters

David Hackenberg, 65, a beekeeper or apiarist, secures bee hives stacked upon the back of a truck as he prepares to transfer the bees to another crop after they completed pollinating a blueberry field near Jonesboro, Maine June 24, 2014. June 24, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Beekeeper Robert Harvey transfers Italian honey bee colonies from a blueberry field to pollinate crops in different fields near Columbia Falls, Maine. Adrees Latif/Reuters

A beekeeper uses a lift to stack beehives onto a truck before transferring the bees to another crop after they pollinated a blueberry field near Columbia Falls, Maine June 23, 2014. Adrees Latif/Reuters

A honey bee, which beekeepers said was an Italian honey bee mixed with an Africanized honey bee, flies near the headlamp of a truck transferring bee colonies to pollinate crops in Columbia Falls, Maine June 22, 2014. Adrees Latif/Reuters

Beekeepers are seen atop a truck as they secure a cover over bee hives before transferring the bees to another crop after they completed pollinating a blueberry field near Columbia Falls, Maine June 23, 2014. Adrees Latif/Reuters

Harvey transfers Italian honey bee colonies pollinating a blueberry field near Columbia Falls, Maine June 23, 2014. Adrees Latif/Reuters

Beekeeper, or apiarist, David Hackenberg, 65, rests by the side of his truck at the end of the evening after transferring bee hives from a blueberry field near Columbia Falls, Maine June 22, 2014. Adrees Latif/Reuters