CropLife America (CLA) commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for continuing to closely monitor and record the health of bee colonies in the U.S. and for collaborating with a variety of stakeholders to address pollinator health issues.
USDA's commitment to improving bee health is reflected in the recent release of an annual survey prepared in collaboration with the Bee Informed Partnership and the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA), which reports a marked decrease in bee colony losses compared to previous years.
Survey results for the 2013-14 winter were released by USDA, the Bee Informed Partnership and AIA on May 14, and show that 23.2 percent of managed honeybee colonies in the U.S. were lost, compared to 30.5 percent losses reported for the 2012-13 winter. Over an eight-year period, the average total of colony losses reported is 29.6 percent.
The 2014 self-reported survey reflects responses from nearly 7,200 beekeepers in the U.S. who collectively manage 21.7 percent of the 2.6 million bee colonies in the country.
"As the survey's co-author Dr. Jeffery Pettis noted, the unstable survey results from year to year indicate that there is not one single solution we can implement to diminish bee colony losses. Recent evidence points to the parasitic Varroa mite as a primary threat to pollinators, but other issues such as adequate nutrition and best management practices among beekeepers must also be addressed," commented Jay Vroom, CLA's president and CEO.
"Although CLA is cautiously encouraged by the results of this year's annual survey on bee colony losses, we recognize that there is still a great deal of work to be done to address issues surrounding bee health," Vroom added. "As this is a self-reported survey, we feel that the involvement of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) would enhance the rigor and value of the information and aid in the important work of improving bee health. We look forward to working with USDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and all involved stakeholders in pursuing science-based solutions for honeybees and other pollinators."
USDA announced that it will hold a summit in October 2014 in Washington, DC that will focus on addressing forage and nutritional needs of pollinators and analyze the most available research related to pollinator losses.