Jul 17, 2019 | Updated: 11:17 AM EDT

Survey Shows Last Year as the Largest Loss of Honeybees Ever Recorded

Jun 20, 2019 01:53 PM EDT

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Last year was the highest loss of honeybees that has ever has been recorded, an annual survey shows. United States Beekeepers lost over 40 percent of colonies during the last year, with the survey showing an increasing number in a winter die-off of honeybees.

The troubling results indicate beekeepers lost nearly 41 percent of their honey bee colonies from April 2018 to April 2019. The latest annual nationwide survey is conducted by the University of Maryland-led nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership. Winter losses were at nearly 38 percent, which is the highest winter loss reported since the survey began 13 years ago.

Honeybees pollinate 15 billion dollars worth of food crops in the United States each year, so their health is critical to food production and supply.

"These results are very concerning, as high winter losses hit an industry already suffering from a decade of high winter losses," says Dennis van Engelsdorp, associate professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and president for the Bee Informed Partnership. The University of Maryland is working to save the state's dying bees, but needs your help.

There are several things killing honeybees like pesticides and use of land that lacks nutrition-rich pollen sources, which causes poor nutrition for honeybees. "The number one message we have for beekeepers is they need to monitor and control mites," said van Engelsdorp.

Varroa mites, lethal parasites are the number one killer. The mites spread easily from colony to colony.

The mites feed off the bees and in the process pass on viruses that are killing honeybees.

"That's a real big concern and I think it speaks to the fact that a lot of the treatments we thought were working aren't working as well. Beekeepers need to be much more vigilant and monitor mites. We are seeing cases where someone successfully treated all of their colonies and had no mites, and one month later had mites through the roof. People who aren't treating. Their mites are moving over," van Engelsdorp said.

"One of the best things that a beekeeper can do is implement Best Management Practices for their region, and they can find those through the Bee Informed website," explains van Engelsdorp.

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