Honeybee populations have been on a devastating decline since 2006. No single cause for colony collapse disorder has been agreed upon by agriculture experts and scientists, as noted by eFoodsDirect previously, but one potential teotwawki fact is crystal clear – the necessary pollinators are continuing to die off in record numbers. A new study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that 40 percent of beehives have perished since April 2014. Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine, and Wisconsin had the highest losses.
The tiny honeybee play a massive role in the food growing process. Without bees, the safety and security of the food supply would be in dire jeopardy. Honeybees pollinate approximately 71 percent of the global food supply. The bee population in America is at an historic low. Almost one-third of the bee colonies in the United States died each year – triple the rate of losses once deemed typical.
Neonicotinoids, a chemical used in commercial pesticides by biotech giants like Monsanto, are “dangerous” to bees, according to a more than 30 scientific lab studies. Due to wind, rain, and transfer from other roving insects, neonicotinoids sprayed on one lawn or farm can travel into other adjacent yards or onto organic crops. Wild dandelions, a staple for the honeybees, can also become covered by neonicotinoids when sprayed neotoxins are transferred due to weather or insect transfer. The varroa mite may surely have played a role in the bee decline, but a multitude of organic growers and environmentalists point to chemical herbicides and GMO seeds are the primary culprits for the mass bee deaths.
The in-depth USDA bee study found that more than 40 percent of all colonies withered and died since last April – that’s the second highest loss in about a decade. More honeybees died off during the summer months than during the winter. Approximately 27 percent more beehives were lost during the summer of 2014 than during the long hard winter we just all waved good-bye to, finally. The beehive loss statistics illustrate an increase of almost 20 percent from the losses recorded during 2013.
That totally shocks me. I would have never guessed that would happen. In the winter, of course, the bees have to live off their stores of honey,” study co-author Dennis van Engelsdorp stated during an interview with Newsweek. “It’s the most stressful time, and you’re going to see losses. But summer losses? Summertime is like paradise for bees, with all the flowers.”
Honeybee study co-author Keith Delaplane stated that the pollinators are attempting to tell the human race that something has gone terribly wrong:
“(It’s) a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems. We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”
More than 6,100 beekeepers in the United States responded to the survey. Together, these apiarists managed nearly 400,000 colonies as of last year, accounting for nearly 15 percent of the country’s total managed honey bee hives.
Beekeepers respond to hive losses by splitting up their colonies, cutting one in half to form two. They then buy new queen bees (from various companies that specialize in breeding these insects) that allow the new colonies to sustain themselves. These efforts have kept the actual total population of honeybees stable, but it costs the beekeepers a lot of time and money, vanEngelsdorp says.
In Connecticut, where a $3 billion agricultural economy hangs in the balance, 7,000 beehives are being painstakingly tended to and monitored – actions which are echoed in a host of agricultural-based states.It’s estimated that agriculture brings in $3 billion to the state’s economy. Bees play an integral part in that equation,” Connecticut state been inspector Mark Creighton noted.
“Bees are the primary link between us and the bounty of fruits and vegetables in our supermarkets. People don’t realize how important they are,” Logee’s Nursery owner in Danielson, Connecticut, Byron Martin, said. “You don’t need a bee to get a head of broccoli or alfalfa. You do need bees to pollinate the mother plants that produce the seeds that grow those crops. People miss that connection.”
In March, President Obama was swarmed by four million environmental activists who converged upon the White House to push for more protections for honeybees. The coalition concerned coalition included food safety activists, beekeepers, citrus growers, farmers, environmentalists, and business leaders eager to submit a save the bees petition.
The honeybees rally outside of the White House occurred just before environmental protections were to be considered by the Pollinator Health Task Force. The task force was created by the White House in 2014. The Pollinator Health Task Force was reportedly created to develop new ideas, partnerships, and possibly regulations, to protect the honeybees.
“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,” Pennsylvania State University entomology professor Diana Cox-Foster said.
Excerpt from the USDA statement about colony collapse disorder and the decline of the honeybee in America:
“Honey bees, which are a critical link in U.S. agriculture, have been under serious pressure from a mystery problem: Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is syndrome defined as a dead colony with no adult bees or dead bee bodies but with a live queen and usually honey and immature bees still present. No scientific cause for CCD has been proven. In October 2006, some beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. While colony losses are not unexpected, especially over the winter, this magnitude of losses was unusually high.”
Beehive thefts and yet another year of shocking honeybee deaths have been predicted for the summer of 2015. Some agriculture researchers are also anticipating that a steep jump in fruit prices and almond prices will occur this year as well.this spring and summer. Fruit and almond prices could come close to doubling, according to some estimates. Honeybees in the California Central Valley always pollinate the fruit and almond trees, which provide produce and nuts shipped around the world. The state literally requires billions of honeybees to generate a healthy and solid crop each year. The ongoing California drought has nearly crippled farms and orchards, the loss of such a sizable portion of the honeybee population further complicates the lives of farmers in the region.
The honeybee population problem does not show any sign of resolving itself or going away anytime soon, if the USDA beehives report statistics are even remotely accurate. Ordering bees to pollinate crops and to start new hives for honey-making is proving more difficult and expensive in 2015 than in years past, according to beekeepers.
What do you think is causing the loss of beehives and honeybee deaths? Do you think the continue decline of the bees puts our food supply in jeopardy?