Beekeepers struggle as 21% of honeybee colonies suffer last winter: Report

Beekeepers struggle as 21% of honeybee colonies suffer last winter: Report

Beekeepers in the United States and other parts of the world are facing tough times keeping their colonies alive. For almost a decade, the massive rate of decline of bee colonies has become a major issue for beekeepers. During the last winter season, beekeepers registered 21% decline in bee colonies. The rate was the lowest decline registered over the last decade in the United States. During 2015 Winter season, the loss was 27 percent.

The Bee Informed Partnership survey has reported slightly better numbers in terms of bee colonies across the United States. The U.S. government authorities are also trying their best to help beekeepers. For this winter seasons, the target has been set at 15 percent. The main reason for decline in bee colonies is the varroa mite, a red parasite about the size of a deer tick. The mite bites into honeybee larvae. As per industry experts, reduction in varroa mite has led to decline in suffering for bee colonies.

Comparing with average loss of 28.4 percent per year during the decade, 21 percent decline in 2016 is encouraging. Still, the industry needs long term solution for the issue which has led to massive financial loss for beekeepers. The decline in bee population impacts pollination and indirectly impacts fruit and vegetable industry. Honeybees pollinate nearly 35 percent of our food supply. It also leads to higher prices for honey due to production constraints in certain regions.

The Bee Informed Partnership survey is run by a non-profit organization but the survey was initially planned by the U.S. government. The survey team collects data from 5,000 beekeepers and the combined data represents 360,000 bee colonies.

A report published by CBS informed, “While usually hive losses are worst in the winter, they occur year round. The survey found yearly losses also down, but not quite to record levels. About one third of the honey bee colonies that were around in April 2016 were dead a year later, the survey found.”

"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. "I am glad to see this, but wouldn't celebrate too much yet."

Dwight Wells, president of the West Central Ohio Beekeepers Association said, "They’re chewing and we should be helping. We should be educating beekeepers, get everyone to participate in educated pest management, and treat for mites within a coordinated timeframe. In northwestern Ohio we’re seeing a lot of chewing behavior and we are at the tipping point. We are training beekeepers, and have momentum. We’re working with researchers and keepers to build the anklebiters to a critical mass."