It is trying times for beekeepers and their bees. It has been reported that US beekeepers have lost 42% of their colonies. However like other wildlife crisis anyone can help honey bees and other pollinators.
Are you aware of the fact that bees pollinate plants that provide a quarter of the food eaten by Americans, accounting for more than $15 billion in increased crop value per year? But it is true and this figure was given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
However bees are dying in large numbers and scientists are still trying to find answers to this happening. Last year the problem was not so acute and U.S. beekeepers reported losing 23% of their colonies in comparison to 2013-2014 winter. It was still a huge loss but still below the average winter losses of 30% seen from 2005 to 2013.
This year however the situation has worsened and U.S. beekeepers saw annual losses of 42.1 percent between April 2014 and April 2015, according to a new federal survey. Winter is a difficult period for the bees but the 2014-15 winter has seen lesser colony losses at 23.1%, as compared to the preceding year when it was 23.7%.
The real problem is the high bee mortality in summer when huge number of honeybees died. Beekeepers have reported summer losses at 27.4% as compared to 19.8% in 2013. The summer is turning out to be deadlier than the winter for the bees.
Dennis van Engelsdorp, survey co-author and University of Maryland entomologist says in a statement, “We traditionally thought of winter losses as a more important indicator of health, because surviving the cold winter months is a crucial test for any bee colony. But we now know that summer loss rates are significant too. This is especially so for commercial beekeepers, who are now losing more colonies in the summertime compared to the winter. Years ago, this was unheard of.”
It has been a common occurrence since October 2006 for honey bees in the US to disappear mysteriously in a condition known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). Causes are still not clear but probable factors could include habitat loss, invasive varroa mites and a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids.
Bees impact 50 to 80 percent of the world food supply and therefore this is not a trivial issue. The situation is serious enough to warrant Washington’s attention: A subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture convened this week for a public hearing on pollinator health.