U.S. beekeepers lost 40 percent of bees in 2014-15

May 15, 2015

Credit: Bee Informed Partnership/University of Maryland/Loretta Kuo

By Science Daily

Beekeepers across the United States lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2014 to April 2015, according to the latest results of an annual nationwide survey. While winter loss rates improved slightly compared to last year, summer losses–and consequently, total annual losses–were more severe. Commercial beekeepers were hit particularly hard by the high rate of summer losses, which outstripped winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies.

The survey, which asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the health and survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the Bee Informed Partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A summary of the 2014-2015 results is available upon request prior to May 13, 2015; thereafter the results will be added to previous years’ results publicly available on the Bee Informed website.

“We traditionally thought of winter losses as a more important indicator of health, because surviving the cold winter months is a crucial test for any bee colony,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. “But we now know that summer loss rates are significant too. This is especially so for commercial beekeepers, who are now losing more colonies in the summertime compared to the winter. Years ago, this was unheard of.”

Beekeepers who responded to the survey lost a total of 42.1 percent of their colonies over the course of the year. Winter loss rates decreased from 23.7 percent last year to 23.1 percent this year, while summer loss rates increased from 19.8 percent to 27.4 percent.

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9 comments on “U.S. beekeepers lost 40 percent of bees in 2014-15

  • As we sow….

    A consequence to the story on the other side of the world is that in Australia, on Kangaroo Island, a pure strain of European Ligurian bees still thrive. They now export queen bees to the rest of the world.

    Humans think we are somehow “Outside” of the environment. Independent of stuff outside their windows. What they don’t release that their very survival is part of a worldwide mesh of links that keeps the oxygen in the air, the fresh water in their taps on food on their table. Humanity would starve without pollinating insects. Beware of thinking you are so smart with your technology.

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  • Let’s not jump to conclusions. In Europe, where they have banned neonicotinoids, the farmers now have to use older, more toxic pesticides that are even worse for bees. The science isn’t in on exactly what is causing bee colony deaths. Canada and Australia have been using neonicotinoids without any bee colony collapses. Here’s an article from 2014 on that summarizes the various studies,

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  • A piece of Jon Entine’s on Forbes has the same credibility of a Vatican study on contraceptives…

    On the other hand: I admit I don’t have any data regarding bee populations and I’d really could use some: you seem to have access to some data regarding Europe, Canada and Australia, can you please direct me to them?
    Note: it’s a sincere request, not a provocation.
    Note on “Note”: it seemed necessary, since the topic appears to be loaded.

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  • The hard, cold truth is that we don’t have a clue on what cause the decline of bee populations. A number of factors have been pointed at but, it seems, none of them is the cause.
    Wikipedia’s page on the matter is a good measure of how much we don’t know about the problem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder

    What we do know is, though, that if bees crash, we crash -unless we can come up with gazillions of bee-sized automatons that could pick up the pollination right where bees would have left it…

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  • Truck accident spills on highways, result in loss and/or death of countless bees. Time to label and treat bee colonies as precious cargo, e.g. an armored truck or escort car with flag.

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  • Lorenzo
    May 16, 2015 at 5:15 am

    The hard, cold truth is that we don’t have a clue on what cause the decline of bee populations. A number of factors have been pointed at but, it seems, none of them is the cause.

    That is not because we don’t know what attacks bee colonies, but because so many different attacks are taking place, that it is difficult to attribute collapses to a particular one or a particular combination.

    Denials and pseudo-science claims by vested interests that their activities are not THE cause, does not help to clarify the situation.

    The varroa mite (Varroa destructor) is the most serious pest of honey bee and many bee colonies have been wiped out by these mites and by viruses carried by them – probably after being weakened by damage from pesticides etc!

    The widespread commercial trafficking of bee hives around seasonal mono-culture crops, looks like a major vector in transmitting pests and diseases.

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  • Yeah.
    As you said -and also as Wikipedia reports… and as a consequence of common sense, also, I might add: there are probably an accumulation of stress factors and these days bees aren’t up to them.

    Still, the fact that it’s a recent thing makes me suspect more of some recent addition as the thing that’s pushing bees’ stress to unsustainable levels.

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  • I noticed a decline in bees years before it was officially recognized and reported. I recall a neighbor wondering what happened to all the bees and we began to wonder… Along with all the robin birds shifting to cardinals, finches and occasional blue jays the environment started to shift. The depth of snow never reaches the the same height on my parents’ house as it did back in the seventies.
    Several trees, flowers, various plants, a row of hedges about nine cars in length have been destroyed by the herds of deer ( yes herds of 8- 20 or so) that pass through the yard a couple of times a day. It’s literally a deer lounge outside. This was a direct result of developers tearing down several area forests to build homes. Originally old growth trees….developers
    had loggers come in one night back in the 80s and tear down the trees. They dragged on over years and eventually used the excuse that the forest was insignificant nothaving any “old trees ” when they planned it that way all along. A tremendous number of animals died losing their home. Deer no longer had a hidden way to get from forest to forest and now live on everyone’s gardens and yards. People stopped planting flowers in most parts of the city – the deer even jump fences to get at any tasty treat. a limited diet is now effecting the deer; it can’ t be good for bees either. add in the pesticides used on people’s lawns, possible viruses, etc. and many factors seem to be at play. I realize this is anecdotal, but when I see the changes first hand, I see a partial human cause as well. This is very disconcerting to me when I realize how difficult it is to get humans to change. It’ s likely that there are several reasons for colony collapse Not to be negative but some will be harder to fix than others.

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