US Lost 33 Percent Of Honeybees Last Year

Posted: May 27 2017, 2:13pm CDT | by , Updated: May 27 2017, 2:17pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
US Lost 33 Percent of Honeybees Last Year
Credit: University of Maryland/Bee Informed Partnership

Honeybee loss rate is improving but it is still a concern

Beekeepers across the United States have lost 33 percent of honeybee colonies last year, according to the latest nationwide survey. That’s a slight improvement from the previous year when loss rates were found to be roughly 40 percent.

The numbers are encouraging and offer a glimmer of hope for the dwindling population of honeybees across the country.

“While it is encouraging that losses are lower than in the past, I would stop short of calling this 'good' news," said project director Dennis vanEngelsdorp from University of Maryland. "Colony loss of more than 30 percent over the entire year is high. It's hard to imagine any other agricultural sector being able to stay in business with such consistently high losses."

The survey includes survival rates of honey bee colonies both at commercial and small-scale and is conducted every year since 2006.

Honey bee colonies in US have been dying at high rates for many years and a number of factors including pesticides, diseases and insects are attributing to their decline. But the biggest threat is varroa mite - a lethal parasite that rapidly spreads between colonies and kills them. Varroa mite becomes a particularly challenging problem in late summers.

However, researchers have found that last year varroa mite was less abundant than previous years. Increased vigilance on the part of beekeepers kept the pesticide population under control and inevitably reduced the bee loss rate.

“Bees are good indicators of the health of the landscape as a whole," said Nathalie Steinhauer, who leads the data collection efforts for the annual survey. "Honey bees are strongly affected by the quality of their environment, including flower diversity, contaminants and pests. To keep healthy bees, you need a good environment and you need your neighbors to keep healthy bees. Honey bee health is a community matter."

This is the eleventh year of the survey. Every year around 5,000 beekeepers across 50 states are connected to understand the state of honeybee colonies and to find ways to mitigate their decline.

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