US Commercial Bees Taking Heavy Losses in 2018, Hanging in There...


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 20 June 2019

 

THE BUZZ

Bees in the Hive at Roberson Farm
Bees in the Hive at Roberson Farm, Farmers.Gov.
Bees at Roberson Farm, FarmersGov.

US Bee Status Report

Commercial Bees Taking Heavy Losses, Hanging in There...

US Beekeepers Lost Over 40% of Colonies Last Year, Highest Winter Losses Ever recorded,
University of Maryland, June 19, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Year
41% Hive Loss
"Beekeepers across the United States lost 40.7% of their honey bee colonies from April 2018 to April 2019..."

Over-Wintering Losses
"...winter losses of 37.7%, which is the highest winter loss reported since the survey began 13 years ago and 8.9 percentage points higher than the survey average."

The New Normal?
"Overall, the annual loss of 40.7% this last year represents a slight increase over the annual average of 38.7%."

Grim Long Term Trends
"Just looking at the overall picture and the 10-year trends, it's disconcerting that we're still seeing elevated losses after over a decade of survey and quite intense work to try to understand and reduce colony loss."

Sample Size
"...4,700 beekeepers managing 319,787 colonies from all 50 states and the District of Columbia responded to this year's survey, representing about 12% of the nation's estimated 2.69 million managed colonies."

Multi-Faceted Bee Threats
"...varroa mites...(and)...Land use changes have led to a lack of nutrition-rich pollen sources for bees, causing poor nutrition. Pesticide exposures, environmental factors, and beekeeping practices all play some role as well."

"...limited field tests showed that products that once removed 90% of mites or more are now removing far fewer."

"...the mite problem seems to be getting worse."

Failing Tools, Losing Battle
"The tools that used to work for beekeepers seem to be failing, and that may be evident in this year's high losses."

Winter Loss Estimates

"1 October 2018 - 1 April 2019: 37.7% losses

7 percentage points higher than winter 2017-2018

8.9 percentage points higher than average winter loss (2006-2019)"

Total Annual Loss Estimates

"1 April 2018 - 1 April 2019: 40.7% losses

0.6 percentage points higher than 2017-2018

2.9 percentage points higher loss since annual survey began in 2010-2011: 37.8%"

 

Bottom Line

Holding the Line
Commercial bee populations are suffering significant stresses and losses, while yet maintaining their capability to perform their industrial agricultural pollination duties.

Weakened & Completely Vulnerable
From this weakened position, any further increases in hive stress and losses will threaten that capability in the US. The currently weakened and numerically reduced condition of global commercial beekeeper's hives leaves us completely vulnerable to potentially catastrophic bee declines in the US and about everywhere in the world, should any more climate, chemical, predatory, or any further health, "headwinds," rise up to torment the commercial or native bee populations, almost everywhere in the world.

I've seen very few bees this Spring. I was searching the newly-grown clover for ten days before I found a bee (typically full of bees...), and though I encounted an earlier Bumbler, it was a lonely sighting, with few Bumblers around... sigh...

 

 

Recent Bee News

June 2019
2018 Annual Euro-Bee Count

April 2019
2019: Massive Bee Declines in Michigan since 2000

Oct 2018
UK Bees, 2018: 2 of 25 Species Extinct, 8 Endangered

Jan 2018
Bee News, Global Polinator Kings in Trouble, but it's Good to be King

 

More Bee Links

 

Bee Informed
beekeeper site

 

 

 

Bee News

June 2019 News of Man & Nature

 

 

 

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2018, US, U.S., United States, beekeeper, bee, survey, bees, trends, roles, nutrition, pesticides, varroa mites, environmental, factors, bee hive, losses

 

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