Loss of Honey Bee Colonies Alarm US Beekeepers, Survey Shows

By Lester Mondragon | May 29, 2017 03:46 AM EDT

The loss of bees peaked at an alarming survey result of 33.2 percent across the United States covering April 2016 to April 2017. The annual survey of bees lost during the period declared the second highest loss of bee colonies since the survey started eleven years ago. The loss rates were based on winter and summer losses that summed the overall loss of bees for the fiscal year.

The annual monitoring survey is conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership in Collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America. The study involves commercial and small scale honey bee producers to track losses of honey bee colonies throughout the country. The lowest loss on record was back in 2011 to 2012 when results show the figure at 29 percent loss of honey bee colonies. More information with these records are available in the Bee Informed Website.

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Dennis Van Engelsdorp, assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and Project Director of Bee Informed Partnership said that the past years saw lower losses of bee colonies in the country. The 33.2 percent loss of honey bee colonies is not good for business and the environment as well.

Honey bee colonies are indicators that the environment suits the habitat of bees in general. The loss of honey bee colonies is not a good sign of the wellness of bees' habitat that affects human settlements as well, reports Physics.Org.

The year 2015 to 2016 experienced the highest loss of honey bee colonies. The figure hit the 40.5 percent mark, although this year's decrease is a good sign for the honey bee industry, the present figure is still a considerable loss of honey bee colonies.

Researchers are continuously studying the factors regarding the loss of honey bee colonies. They identified factors that contribute to the rate of loss of honey bee colonies such as diseases and parasites that were the top culprits. The ultimate cause of the colony destruction is the parasite known as the "Varroa Mite." a lethal parasite that easily spreads across colonies causing havoc and death among honey bees. The awareness and utmost care of beekeepers kept the parasites at bay with the help of mite control and eradication products and preventive mite control measures, reports Los Angeles County Beekeepers.

Natalie Steinhauer, a graduate student at the UMD Department of Entomology is heading the data collection of the annual survey. She says that the loss of honey bee colonies indicate the wellbeing of the natural landscape that bees dwell. The environment affects the honey bees existence that could be disrupted by contaminants, parasites, and pests. They also encourage flower diversity in areas where they settle. Honey bee health is as important as the community.

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