New USDA Study Finds Bee Populations Not Dropping as Steeply, Names Possible Causes

Categories: Ethical Eating

bee_pollinating_wikimedia_Louise_Docker.jpg
Louise Docker via wikimedia commons
We've been hearing a lot about dwindling bee populations for quite some time already.

While the thought of a world without apis' might soothe horrifying childhood memories of stings, it would be an utter catastrophe for many of the foods we eat; those buzzing little insects pollinate many of our flowering fruits and veggies.

Yesterday, the USDA released a report on winter honey bee losses. Turns out we're not losing quite as many as last year, but we're still not in the clear.

See Also: Beekeepers, National Honey Bee Advisory Board Suing the EPA Over Pestcides

The study found from October 2013 through April 2014, the total losses of honey bee colonies were 23.2 percent across the country last winter.

It was an obvious drop compared to last winter's 30.5 percent loss. Previous surveys found losses of 21.9 percent in 2011-2012, 30 percent in 2010-2011, 33.8 percent in 2009-2010, around 29 percent in 2008-2009, approximately 36 percent in 2007-2008, and near 32 percent in 2006-2007.

The eight year average has been 29.6 percent; however, losses are still above the level that is considered economically sustainable by beekeepers, which is 18.9 percent. Nearly, two-thirds of the apiarists survey sustained losses greater than the threshold.

Losses remain above the level that beekeepers consider economically sustainable. This year, almost two-thirds of the beekeepers responding to the survey reported losses greater than the 18.9 percent level that beekeepers say is acceptable.


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