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Better News for US Honey Bees

Overwintering Honey Bee Colony Losses Reduced This Year

Jun 12, 2017
US beekeepers anticipate lowest honey bee colony winter loss rate since surveys began.

Today’s report of preliminary honey bee colony losses from the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides some relief for beekeepers working to improve the health of their colonies in the United States. An estimated 21.1 percent of managed colonies were lost over the 2016-2017 winter, representing an improvement of 5.8 percent compared to the previous winter and falling well below the ten-year average total winter loss rate of 28.4 percent. It’s potentially the lowest winter loss rate since these surveys began.

“This is news that brings a ray of hope for everyone who cares about bee health,” says Dick Rogers, Principle Scientist and beekeeper for the Bayer Bee Care Program in North America. “As I reported in April, we are not out of the woods, but there is a reason for some optimism, given the commitment to protect these vital pollinators.” At Bayer, we continue to conduct research into the many factors affecting bee health and supports efforts to improve pollinator nutrition caused by a lack of forage through its Feed a Bee initiative. The company is also working closely with many partners to improve bee health, including Project Apis m. through its support of the Healthy Hives 2020 USA initiative.

In contrast to the improvement seen this year for the USA, initial results from the German Beekeeping Association’s (Deutscher ImkerBund e.V.) survey suggest that high overwintering losses in many areas of Germany may be seen in 2017, mainly due to the long, warm autumn late in the 2016 season and humid weather in some regions hampering effective Varroa control treatments. As a consequence, many honey bee colonies have not survived the winter, mainly due to Varroa infestation and the diseases they transmit. The fuller picture on honey bee colony overwintering losses across Europe will emerge later in the year when the latest COLOSS results are published though.

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