The 2020 news we really needed to hear.
After a highly concerning year in 2019, American honeybees are making a comeback. Bee Informed Partnership’s Loss & Management Survey shows that the loss of colonies amongst beekeepers was at a 14-year low. There were 3,377 beekeepers managing 276,832 colonies across the United States who responded to the survey, which includes the University of Maryland and other universities.
Beekeepers lost an estimated 22% of their colonies during the last winter (October 1 to April 1) compared to the average 28.6%, according to the survey. The annual surveys of thousands of beekeepers to determine study different management practices to compare the loss of colonies. By collecting years of data, the partnership is able to identify patterns that can help determine what combination of factors keep a colony alive. Through sharing this information, beekeepers are able to make significant changes that can drastically alter the population.
The previous year recorded that 37.7% of colonies died off, as found by scientists. The summer of 2019, didn’t show much sign of hope when at a 32% loss rate reported by beekeepers. Commercial beekeepers were the main drivers of the losses, whereas backyard hobbyists were showing lower rates of loss, explained bee partnership scientific coordinator Nathalie Steinhauer. These loss rates now viewed as “part of the new normal, she added.
The global food supply—particularly of the supply of almonds and vanilla, apples and squashes—is highly dependant on pollinating honeybees but the increasing effects of global warming and pesticides on the shrinking population have caused great concern amongst scientists. With winter losses often being far worse than summer months this gives us a huge sense of hope for the rest of the year.