More than two out of five American honeybee colonies died in the past year, and surprisingly the worst die-off was in the summer, according to a federal survey.
Since April 2014, beekeepers lost 42.1 percent of their colonies, the second highest loss rate in nine years, according to an annual survey conducted by a bee partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture.But then note this, something I did not know:
But it's not quite as dire as it sounds. That's because after a colony dies, beekeepers then split their surviving colonies, start new ones, and the numbers go back up again, said Delaplane and study co-author Dennis vanEngelsdorp of the University of Maryland.
What shocked the entomologists is that is the first time they've noticed bees dying more in the summer than the winter. The survey found beekeepers lost 27.4 percent of their colonies this summer. That's up from 19.8 percent the previous summer. [More died in the summer than the winter? What percent died in the winter? Spring? Fall?]
Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine and Wisconsin all saw more than 60 percent of their hives die since April 2014, according to the survey.I did not see the #1 state, North Dakota, mentioned in the article. Perhaps because there really is not much of a summer in North Dakota when the big die-off occurred last year.
Then the war of words:
Chief beekeeper for pesticide-maker Bayer said the loss figure is "not unusual at all" and said the survey shows an end result of more colonies now than before: 2.74 million hives in 2015, up from 2.64 million in 2014.
That doesn't mean bee health is improving or stable, vanEngelsdorp said. After they lose colonies, beekeepers are splitting their surviving hives to recover their losses, pushing the bees to their limits, Delaplane said.
Memo to self: collect some honey bees and poll them -- are they being "pushed to their limits?" The ones I see here in Texas seem to be happy and heavily laden with pollen. They don't seem "pushed to their limits at all."
I am really, really impressed with beekeepers.
What North Dakotans really hope for: a massive mosquito die-off. It would be nice to see the mosquito population drop so low that mosquitoes were put on the endangered species list. Maybe some high school entrepreneur could market mosquito sex organs to the Chinese as a fertility aid.