One-third of honeybee colonies in US died last winter: The food collapse approaches
by: Ethan A. Huff
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) recently published preliminary data from its annual review of bee colony declines in the U.S., and the findings from this report are mind-boggling. According to the latest survey results, an astounding 31.3 percent, or roughly one-third, of all managed bee colonies in the U.S. were wiped out during the most recent 2012/2013 winter season, a rate that represents a 42 percent increase compared to the number of colonies lost during the previous 2011/2012 winter season.
According to BIP, which works in collaboration with both the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. beekeepers on average lost more than 45 percent of their colonies during the 2012/2013 winter season, a 78.2 percent jump in losses over the previous season. And overall, more than 70 percent of respondents, most of whom were backyard beekeepers, experienced losses beyond the 15 percent “acceptable” threshold, illustrating a monumental problem not only for bee survival but also for the American food supply.
Since 2006, total bee colony losses have hovered around 30 percent, sometimes a little higher and sometimes a little lower. And the situation was believed by some to be improving when the overall percentage of colony losses declined sharply during the 2011/2012 winter season by almost 10 percent. But now that the death toll has jumped once again beyond the 30 percent mark, many are worried that this year-after-year compounded increase will very soon make it impossible for grow enough food.
“We’re getting closer and closer to the point where we don’t have enough bees in this country to meet pollination demands,” says Dennis vanEngelstorp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland who led the survey. “If we want to grow fruits and nuts and berries, this is important. One in every three bites [of food consumed in the U.S.] is directly or indirectly pollinated by bees.”
Colony Collapse Disorder no longer a primary cause of bee losses – bees are just dying