Sunday, May 2, 2010

USA Still Suffering Honey Bee Losses

Researchers said that continued losses of this magnitude are not economically sustainable for commercial beekeepers. Photo courtesy: Jack Dykinga

Reprinted from Wildlife Extra

Losses of managed honey bee colonies across the USA totalled 33.8% from all causes last winter (October 2009 to April 2010), according to a survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Beekeepers identified starvation, poor weather, and weak colonies going into winter as the top reasons for mortality in their operations.

This is an increase from overall losses of 29% reported from a similar survey covering the winter of 2008-2009, and similar to the 35.8% losses for the winter of 2007-2008.

The researchers said that continued losses of this magnitude are not economically sustainable for commercial beekeepers. The continued high rate of losses are worrying, especially considering losses occurring over the summer months were not being captured, notes Jeffrey Pettis, research leader of ARS' Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal intramural scientific research agency. The survey was conducted by Pettis and past AIA presidents Dennis van Engelsdorp and Jerry Hayes.

The 28% of beekeeping operations that reported some of their colonies perished without dead bees present--a sign of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)--lost 44% of their colonies. This compares to 26% of beekeepers reporting such dead colonies in the 2008-2009 winter and 32% in the 2007-2008 winter. Beekeepers that did not report their colonies having CCD lost 25% of their colonies.

As this was an interview-based survey, it was not possible to differentiate between verifiable cases of CCD and colonies lost as the result of other causes that share the "absence of dead bees" as a symptom. The cause of CCD is still unknown.

The survey checked on about 22.4% of the country's estimated 2.46 million colonies. The survey reports only winter losses and does not capture colony losses that occur throughout the summer when queens or entire colonies fail and need to be replaced. Those summer losses can be significant.

No comments: