USDA’s annual honey bee survey offered some good news and some bad news about the important pollinators – winter losses were lower, but summer losses were higher than the previous year.
According to the survey, losses of managed honey bee colonies were 23.1 percent for the 2014-2015 winter but summer losses exceeded winter numbers for the first time, making annual losses for the year 42.1 percent. “The winter loss improvement was about 0.6 percentage points less than the losses reported for the 2013-2014 winter. This is the second year in a row that winter losses have been noticeably lower than the nine year average winter loss of 28.7 percent.”
“The winter loss numbers are more hopeful especially combined with the fact that we have not seen much sign of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) for several years, but such high colony losses in the summer and year-round remain very troubling,” said Jeff Pettis, a survey co-author and a senior entomologist at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland.
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist/Entomologist for the Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center, took the report as encouraging but pointing out the need for more work to protect pollinators. “The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is good news for all who care about bee health,” said Rogers, adding that USDA recent annual Honey Report showed the number of U.S. honey bee colonies grew to 2.74 million in 2014, continuing a 10-year trend of steady growth.
“Even with this good news about overwintering trends, we must continue to focus on the challenges facing bee health,” Rogers continued. “Bayer CropScience is developing new solutions to the problems caused by the invasive Varroa mite and is working to tackle another major issue facing pollinators today – lack of forage – through our Feed a Bee initiative.”
Rogers says since this is only the third year that the USDA has reported on summer losses, it is difficult to identify any potential trend but said Bayer has implemented a Healthy Hives 2020 research collaboration with honey bee experts to identify tangible actions to help improve the health of honey bee colonies over the next five years.