42 Percent of US Honeybee Colonies Die Off in a Single Year, Experts Shocked

By Ashwin Subramania - 14 May '15 08:01AM

According to a recently released federal report, two out of five American honeybee colonies died in the last 1 year.

From April 2014, beekeepers have recorded the second highest loss rate in nine years after 42.1 percent of the colonies died.

"What we're seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there's some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems," said study co-author Keith Delaplane at the University of Georgia. "We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count."

Entomologists were also surprised to see more bees dying in the summer than winter. The number of bees that perished in the summer last year jumped to 27.4 percent, which was 19.8 percent more than the previous summer.

Univeristy of Marlyand researcher Dennis vanEngelsdrop feels the use of pesticides might have had a sizeable influence in weakening the bee population.

In spite of the deaths, beekeepers ensured that the bee population remained steady over the years.

The high death rate meant that they would have to spend more money and time in replacing the hives. This would further increase the prices of pollinating fruits and vegetables.

"Most of the major commercial beekeepers get a dark panicked look in their eyes when they discuss these losses and what it means to their businesses," said Pennsylvania State University entomology professor Diana Cox-Foster.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "The report underscores the complexity of the pollinator challenge. It's about pathogens, it's about pests, it's about pesticides, it's about diet and the diversity of crop production, it's about the stress of transportation. It doesn't lend itself to a quick, easy, simple answer."

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