Losses of managed honey bee colonies nationwide totaled 33.8 percent from all causes from October 2009 to April 2010, according to a survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Research Service. Beekeepers identified starvation, poor weather and weak colonies going into winter as the top reasons for mortality.
Overall losses of 29 percent were reported from a similar survey covering the winter of 2008-2009. Losses during the winter of 2007-2008 were 36 percent.
The continued high rate of losses are worrying, especially considering losses occurring over the summer months are not being captured, according to Jeffrey Pettis, research leader of the ARS Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. Continued losses of this magnitude are not economically sustainable for commercial beekeepers, noted Pettis and other researchers who worked on the project. The survey checked on about 22.4 percent of the country’s estimated 2.46 million bee colonies.