An incredible new report claims that something you wouldn't expect could be decimating bee populations nationwide.
Officials are becoming increasingly concerned about plunging honeybee populations, as we rely so heavily on this little creature to pollinate the plants that feed us every day. And as it turns out, the bees are facing one very unusual enemy, and it’s called the varroa mite.
This little red parasite the size of a deer tick bites honebee larvae, pupae, adult drons, and worker bees, which transmits a virus to them that can wipe out entire bee colonies. Worryingly, a 2017 Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association Winter Loss Sruvey found that 831 beekeepers lost 52 percent of their colonies, which numbers in the thousands. And hundreds of those losses may have been due to mites.
“Absolutely mites may have played a role. It’s agreed nationwide that varroa mites are the number one enemy for bee loss,” said Steve Repasky, president of the state beekeepers group, in an interview witht he Pitssburgh Post-Gazette. “We had healthy bees before the mite arrived. They’re are transmitting 25 different diseases and viruses.”
“For the 2016-2017 winter season, 4,963 beekeepers in the United States provided validated survey responses,” the Bee Informed report states. “Collectively, these beekeepers managed 363,987 colonies in October 2016, representing about 13% of the country’s estimated 2.78 million managed honey producing colonies1. An estimated 21.1% of colonies managed in the United States were lost over the 2016-2017 winter. This represents an improvement of 5.8 percentage points compared to the previous 2015-2016 winter, and is below the 10-year average total winter loss rate of 28.4% (Figure 1).
“Beekeepers not only lose colonies in winter (October – March) but also throughout summer (April – September). The 2016 summer colony loss rate was 18.1%. When all the survey results were combined, beekeepers lost 33.2% of their colonies between April 2016 and March 2017. This is the second lowest rate of annual colony loss recorded over the last seven years.”