Bee informed about bee health

Friday, June 23, 2017
Beekeepers across the United States lost 44 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2015 to April 2016, according to an annual nationwide survey of commercial and small-scale beekeepers. The survey found that summer losses – when bees are at their healthiest – rivaled winter loss rates.

This survey was conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, which receives a majority of its funding from the NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

The researchers note that many factors are contributing to colony losses. A clear culprit is the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that can easily spread between colonies. Varroa is a particularly challenging problem among backyard beekeepers (defined as those who manage fewer than 50 colonies). "Many backyard beekeepers don't have any varroa control strategies in place. We think this results in colonies collapsing and spreading mites to neighboring colonies that are otherwise well-managed for mites," said Nathalie Steinhauer, a graduate student in the University of Maryland Department of Entomology who leads the data collection efforts for the annual survey. "We are seeing more evidence to suggest that good beekeepers who take the right steps to control mites are losing colonies in this way, through no fault of their own."

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Related Information

Farm Bill Priority Areas:
Agriculture systems and technology
U.S. States and Territories:
California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas