Skip to main content

Study: Over half of bee colonies in MN were lost in the last year

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

More than half of the managed honeybee colonies in Minnesota were lost in the last year, an annual study into nationwide bee deaths estimates.

Preliminary results from the Bee Informed Partnership's colony loss survey for 2014-15 found that beekeepers reported they lost 51.2 percent of colonies in the state in 12 months.

This is more than the national average of 42.1 percent – the second-highest rate of losses recorded in the nine years of the survey. This was driven by a huge increase in losses over the summer (between April and October), with losses during that time hitting 27.4 percent compared to 19.8 percent in 2013.

The rise in summer bee deaths is a cause of concern for University of Maryland researcher Dennis vanEngelsdorp, who led the survey and said these losses are likely to have been caused by poor nutrition and exposure to pesticides.

"It's worrying that we've got this new norm," he told MPR, "where just a continuous sort of hemorrhaging of losses seems to happen all year round."

"These bees are under incredible amounts of stress and we have to figure out what the drivers of those stresses are."

[ted id="416"]

The study found that large, commercial operations lost more colonies during the summer, while smaller enterprises tended to suffer losses during the winter.

MPR notes that a "clear culprit" in the losses on small bee colonies was the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that spreads between colonies, but adds that the major cause of losses at larger operations is not clear.

Bee Informed compiled its results through a survey of 6,128 beekeepers across the country, who manage a combined 398,247 colonies between them.

Insecticide concern prompted MN review

Concern over the collapse of the bee population, and the potentially devastating effect it could have on the U.S. food system, prompted Minnesota's Department of Agriculture to launch a review of the insecticides being used on Minnesota farms in October.

One of the contentious issues that will be addressed is the use of neonicotinoids, one of the most popular insecticides used in agriculture, which some studies suggest could be linked to the widespread death of bees.

NPR News notes neonicotinoids are used to coat the seeds of many agricultural crops including Minnesota's biggest cash crop, corn, to repel insect pests.

The Star Tribune reports Minnesota's Department of Agriculture received more than 400 comments from members of the public calling for officials to include the possibility of banning neonicotinoids in its in-depth study.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-08-11 at 2.49.44 PM

15,000 Minnesota nurses 'overwhelmingly' authorize strike

Overworked and underpaid, the Minnesota Nurses Association is ready to strike.

School dinners lunch

Minnesota to offer free school meals to 90,000 extra students

Gov. Tim Walz, who is facing re-election in November, announced the measure on Monday.

motorcycle

Minneapolis man dies from injuries days after motorcycle pileup

The 69-year-old died after four days at Regions Hospital.

Sebastion Wolbersen-O’Hara

Police: 15-year-old missing from home north of Twin Cities

Authorities say he may be headed to the metro.

Joseph_P._Kennedy,_Sr_optimized

Foundation, the building, the win

Identifying Value Plus Catalysts helps your financial strategy and foundation

boating minnesota lake

25-year-old Hopkins man drowns after falling off boat

The man reportedly fell from the boat while fishing with friends.

mayor frey city minneapolis live stream march 14 2022

What's in Mayor Jacob Frey's budget proposal?

Here's a breakdown of what the Minneapolis mayor is focusing on in 2023-24.

Low, Mimi Parker

Low cancels Europe shows due to Mimi Parker's cancer treatment

The Duluth band says the decision follows 'recent changes' in Parker's treatment.

Related