U.S. Commercial Honey Bee Populations See ‘Troubling’ 42% Decline

posted: 05/14/15
by: Danny Clemens
Life and reproduction of bees

Commercial honey bee populations declined 42% in twelve months, according to a new survey from the University of Maryland. In an unusual twist, bee keepers saw severe losses during the summer months, which experts say could be a negative indicator for the overall health of bee colonies.

"The winter loss numbers are more hopeful especially combined with the fact that we have not seen much sign of Colony Collapse Disorder for several years, but such high colony losses in the summer and year-round remain very troubling," said Jeffery Pettis, survey coordinator and a senior entomologist at U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Experts attribute some of the loss to the varroa mite, a deadly parasite that has been ravaging small bee colonies. Amongst larger colonies, however, there is no clear explanation for the stark declines.

The impact of the bee population decline is far-reaching; honey bees do not only produce honey, they also play an important role in pollination of other crops, such as almonds. The honey bee pollination industry is valued at up to $15 billion each year.

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Battle of the Bees

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