Wintertime honeybee mortality remains high, survey says

05/31/2013 03:23:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

honeybee coloniesVicky BoydBee colonies transported to California for almond pollination had more mortality than those that didn't travel, according to a recent survey.Beekeepers report they lost nearly one-third of their colonies this winter, according to an annual survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the Bee Informed Partnership.

The losses of 31.1 percent were slightly more than the six-year average of 30.5 percent but significantly greater than the 22 percent figure beekeepers reported during the 2011-12 winter.

The survey from October 2012 through April 2013 was conducted by University of Maryland research scientist Dennis vanEngelsdorp in collaboration with Jeff Pettis, research leader with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service's Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and others.

More than 6,000 U.S. beekeepers responded to the survey and represented about 600,000 colonies, or about 22 percent of the country's estimated 2.62 million colonies.

One difference this winter was more colonies dwindled away rather than dying suddenly from colony collapse disorder, according to the survey.

In addition, beekeepers who hauled colonies to California for almond pollination reported higher losses than those who didn't haul bees to California.

About 70 percent of responding beekeepers reported losses greater than 14 percent, the threshold below which beekeepers say allows them to remain economically viable.

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