More buzz as honeybee mortality rate drops

June 15, 2012 by  

American beekeepers were luckier last winter than in previous seasons when many colonies died due to a disorder.

The colony collapse disorder (CCD) has been the cause of the high death rate of honeybee worker bees since 2006. In the yearly survey, administered by the Apiary Inspectors of America, the Bee Informed Partnership, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the winter of 2011-2012 was a significantly better year with a 21.9% of overall losses for various reasons in contrast to previous years when the highest death rate was 32%.

The reason for the decline in honeybee mortality rates this year is unclear, but Jeff Pettis, co-director of the questionnaire and research director at the Agricultural Research Service Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, believes the unseasonably warm winter of 2012 was probably a factor in the lower mortality rates, since warm weather puts less strain on honeybee colonies and might build up the honeybees’ immunity to parasites, pathogens, and other challenges face by bees.

The interview-based questionnaire was printed by printing companies in Beltsville and disseminated to 5,543 beekeepers across the country, to approximately 15%of the nation’s 2.49 million bee colony supervisors.

According to the National Geographic, Pennsylvania apiarist Dave Hackenberg was the first person to detect CCD in October 2006, when he provided 400 bee colonies to a farm in Florida for crop pollination. It was after the pollination had occurred and he had gone back to collect his bee colonies as usual that he discovered the bare boxes and the disappearance of all his bees. This is a common symptom of this disorder.