US Honeybee Losses Soar Over Last Year, USDA Finds
May 26, 2015
By Dr. Mercola
A world without bees would be a very different place. Bees are pollinators – and critical ones at that. Of the 100 different crops that make up 90 percent of the world’s diet, bees pollinate 70.
The crops that make up about one out of every three bites of food depend on bees to flourish. Without bees, the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that you may currently take for granted at your grocery store could cease to exist… and along with them, the many other species that depend on them for food.
In an effort to show the critical importance of bees, one Whole Foods store removed all produce from plants dependent on pollinators. This involved pulling 237 of 453 products (or 52 percent) from the shelves. A sampling of the produce that disappeared without bees included the following:1
Apples Onions Avocados
Carrots Mangos Lemons
Limes Honeydew Cantaloupe
Zucchini Summer squash Eggplant
Cucumbers Celery Green onions
Cauliflower Leeks Bok choy
Kale Broccoli Broccoli rabe
Honeybee Losses Soar in the US
In the 1940s, there were 5 million managed honeybee colonies in the US. Today there are half that number, while demand for pollination services (for crops including almonds, berries, and more) has increased.
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is basically defined as a dead bee colony with no adult bees, or a colony with a live queen and only immature bees present, is often blamed for the ongoing honeybee losses, but no “official” cause has been named. According to the USDA’s internal research agency, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS):2
“Colony losses from CCD are a very serious problem for beekeepers. Annual losses from the winter of 2006-2011 averaged about 33 percent each year, with a third of these losses attributed to CCD by beekeepers. The winter of 2011-2012 was an exception, when total losses dropped to 22 percent.
A 1-year drop is too short a time period to count as definitive improvement in honey bee colony survivorship. At least 2 to 3 years of consistently lower loss percentages is necessary before it is possible to be sure that CCD is on the decline.”
Indeed, the latest numbers from the USDA show that honeybee losses are, in fact, continuing to climb. From April 2014 to April 2015, losses of honeybee colonies hit 42 percent, which is the second highest annual loss to date.3 This percentage is down from 45 percent in 2012-2013, but remained well above the three prior years’ annual measurements.
Honeybee Losses Are Occurring at an ‘Economically Unsustainable’ Level