Honey Bee Colonies Improved Compared To 2016, Survey Says

By Staff Writer | May 29, 2017 01:50 AM EDT

From April of last year to April of this year, US beekeepers suffered a loss of 33 percent of the honey bee colonies they own. However, there has been an improvement on the overall year losses as compared to 2016.

Based on the most recent initial findings of a national survey, since 2011 to 2012 the entire year losses were the lowest. The survey has recorded a loss of 29 percent of the honey bee colonies during the year. The survey that started from 2006-2007 recorded the lowest loss for winter. reported that the nonprofit organization, Bee Informed Partnership along with the Apiary Inspectors of America conduct the survey annually for both commercial and small-scale beekeepers. The said survey is aimed at monitoring the continued existence of the beekeepers' honey bee colonies. The result of the survey for the year 2017 as well as the previous years is posted on the Bee Informed website.

Assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership, Dennis vanEngelsdorp said, "While it is encouraging that losses are lower than in the past, I would stop short of calling this 'good' news." He added that "Colony loss of more than 30 percent over the entire year is high. It's hard to imagine any other agricultural sector being able to stay in business with such consistently high losses."

Honey beekeepers lost an absolute 33.2 percent over the past year. This makes 7.3 percentage declined from the previous study in 2015 to 2016 where the loss rate is said to be 40.5 percent. The loss rates for winter plummeted from 26.9 percent from the previous winter to 21.1 percent for the past winter. The rates for summer loss shrank from 23.6 percent to 18.1 percent.

Even though there's still a loss in the number of honey colonies, honey beekeepers can still see light in the glooming honey business. The decrease in the lethal parasite, varroa mites could be the major reason for the improvement.

The US government which initially began the survey is now run by Bee Informed Partnership. The gathered information came from almost 5,000 honey beekeepers who oversee 360,000 plus colonies. The study emphasizes more on backyard honey beekeepers instead of commercial honey beekeepers.

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