Skip to main content

Honey bee colony loss slows, but they're still dying

Bee colony loss has improved from "horrible" to "just bad."
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The good news is that the loss of bee colonies slowed during the winter. The bad news is bees are still dying.

That's the finding of the Bee Informed Partnership's colony loss survey, which tracked the performance of more than 350,000 colonies managed by 4,963 beekeepers in the U.S. last year.

Of those colonies, and estimated 21.1 percent of those were lost over the 2016-17 winter.

Although this is still not good, it represents an improvement on recent years. In the 2015-16 winter, 26.9 percent of bee colonies were lost.

When the 2016 summer is taken into account, beekeepers lost 33.2 percent of their colonies in the 12 months starting April 2016. This is the second-lowest rate of annual colony loss recorded in the past seven years.

Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, told MPR News the latest figures mean bee colony loss has moved from "horrible" to "just bad."

He told the news organization the slowing decline in colony loss could be the result of better control of the varroa mite, which is considered by scientists to be the leading factor in bee deaths.

Pesticide use, disease and nutrition have also been cited as contributing to colony losses.

The pollination carried out by honey bees is vital for the human food chain, with the Southwest Farm Press noting honey bees support one in every three bites of food we take.

The Associated Press says with winter colony losses on the slide, the U.S. government has set a goal of keeping losses under 15 percent this winter.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves survive Knicks' second-half barrage to get back to .500

Karl-Anthony Towns' lay-in helped Minnesota get a win in The Garden.

FLickr - crime scene tape do not crozz

Charges: MN teen shot mom after dispute over meth

The girl's mother said there had been a dispute over methamphetamine.

bad roads, blizzard

No travel advised: High winds, whiteout conditions in NW MN

Zero visibility in parts of greater Minnesota Tuesday night.

holy angels high school j nelson

Update: Holy Angels evacuated over bomb threat, school says

Someone left a voicemail early Tuesday suggesting there was an explosive device.

radio station, microphone

Convicted stalker charged with harassment of another DJ at The Current

He pleaded guilty to similar charges involving the DJ's colleague back in 2015.

Mall of America exterior Tyler Vigen Wikimedia COmmons

10 new shops, food stops at Mall of America

Donuts, K-fashion, model cars — the new tenants cover a lot of bases.

Gophers basketball

Gophers fall below roster minimum, postpone Penn State game

It is "due to internal COVID-19 protocols within the Golden Gopher program."

Raheem Morris

Report: Vikings request interview with Rams' Raheem Morris

Morris was once the youngest head coach in the NFL at 33 years old.

train crossing S Boardman Ave, New York Mills, Minnesota - August 2013 crop GSV

Sheriff: Drunk driver crashed trying to 'beat the train'

The BNSF train slammed into the side of the driver's car.

ambulance

Man run over after parking dispute leads to road rage crash

The two groups fought about parking prior to the crash.

hwy 41 engler boulevard crash crop

Deadly crash shuts down small stretch of Chaska highway for hours

A driver crossed over the center median and hit another vehicle.

covid test 6

You can now order 4 free at-home COVID tests from the government

Tests will ship for free within 7-12 days, according to the White House.

Related

Honey bee colony loss slows, but they're still dying

Bee colony loss has improved from "horrible" to "just bad."

There's a swarm of honey bees near the GoMN office

These bees appear to have made themselves a home on an electric box near GoMN's office. Now what?

There's a swarm of honey bees near the GoMN office

These bees appear to have made themselves a home on an electric box near GoMN's office. Now what?

The Honey Nut Cheerios bee has disappeared – just like a lot of other pollinators

Pollinators are dying off, and General Mills wants people to know they can help save the bees.

Bee or butterfly? Pick your favorite design for a new MN license plate

Are you more of a butterfly person, or a bee person?

Pelicans are coming back to Minnesota already – but don't get too close

Pelicans are bringing their giant beaks and 9-foot wingspans back to Minnesota.