After a few years of hopeful signs that America’s bee populations might be bouncing back, there’s some bad news for the insects: over the past year, the USDA has found, over 44% of honeybee colonies have died off across America. While it’s slightly lower than the 45% losses seen in 2012 and 2013, it’s disappointing considering that the colony loss rate over the past two years had shown signs of improvement, with losses of only 34%. Scientists aren’t sure exactly what’s responsible for the uptick, but the USDA study suggests that bee-killing mites could be the culprit.
Beekeepers can usually expect some colony loss each year, particularly in the winter, but what’s usually considered an acceptable rate is closer to 16.9%, almost half the 28.1% reported this part winter. But what really has them worried is the losses this past summer, which continued at the same rate despite the more hospitable weather.
Normally, honeybees have it easier during the summer — and the record temperatures that have become the new normal due to climate change over the past several years may have something to do with the increased die-off. Bumblebees, in particular, struggle with high temperatures, and in some areas have even experienced local extinctions.
As always, there are likely a number of factors contributing to the problem, including the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, the effects of pollution, habitat loss, and even plants losing their unique scents due to climate change. While the EPA is finally taking action to restrict the use of bee-killing pesticides in the US, without action on every front, it’s hard to say whether our bees will be able to bounce back.
Via The Verge
Images via Wikipedia