A massive finding about honeybees could have huge implications for the future of farming in the United States.
Scientists have just made a very big discovery about honeybees, a finding that could provide hope to growing concerns about a species that is vital to the United States and the world. A U.S. survey of beekeepers found that although they lost 21 percent of their colonies over last winter, that’s the lowest losses in more than a decade.
In fact, it’s the lowest winter loss level the survey has ever recorded, as it started in 2006. The loss figure was 27 percent the previous winter, a massive improvement, although still far short of the U.S. government’s goal of keeping losses under 15 percent in the winter.
“It’s good news in that the numbers are down, but it’s certainly not a good picture,” said survey director Dennis vanEngelsdorp, according to a Press Herald report. “It’s gone from horrible to bad.”
“We would of course all love it if the trend continues, but there are so many factors playing a role in colony health,” said bee expert Elina Lastro Nino at the University of California Davis, who wasn’t part of the survey, also according to the Press Herald. “I am glad to see this, but wouldn’t celebrate too much yet.”
The Bee Informed report states; “For the 2016-2017 winter season, 4,963 beekeepers in the United States provided validated survey responses. 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.”