Almost Half of US Honeybee Hives Collapsed Last Year
The great American beepocolypse continues.
About a decade ago, #beekeepers began noticing unusually steep annual hive die-offs. At first, they’d find that #bees had simply abandoned hives during the winter months—a phenomenon deemed “colony collapse disorder.” In more recent years, winter losses have continued at high levels, and summer-season colony collapses have spiked. The #Bee Informed Partnership, a US Department of Agriculture-funded collaboration of research labs and universities nationwide, tracks this annual beepocolypse, and the latest results, for the year spanning April 2015 to April 2016, are a real buzzkill:
“Acceptable winter loss” measures what beekeepers consider normal attrition. Last season, total losses were nearly triple the acceptable rate—forcing beekeepers to scramble to form new hives, an expensive and time-consuming process. They’re not the only ones with a big problem on their hands: About a third of the US dietcomes from crops that rely on #pollination, the great bulk of which comes from these beleaguered hives.
So far, researchers have not come up with one definitive reason for the dire state of bee health. Suspects #swarm like characters in a drawing-room murder mystery. “A clear culprit is the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that can easily spread between colonies,” the report states. “#Pesticides and malnutrition caused by changing land use patterns are also likely taking a toll, especially among commercial beekeepers.”
As I’ve written about in the past, neonicitinoid pesticides and a new class of fungicides likely share much of the blame for the vast honeybee die-offs; more here, here, and here. Unfortunately, these chemicals are still widely used on farm fields, and hotly promoted by agrichemical companies.