Quantcast
Animals

USDA: Beekeepers Lost 44% of Honey Bee Colonies Last Year

On Tuesday the Bee Informed Partnership, in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), released its annual report on honey bee losses in the U.S. Beekeepers reported losing 44 percent of their total number of colonies managed over the last year—close to the highest annual loss in the past six years. These losses are considered too high to be sustainable for U.S. agriculture and the beekeeping industry.

Beekeepers reported losing 44 percent of their total number of colonies managed over the last year—close to the highest annual loss in the past six years. Photo credit: Qypchak / Wikimedia

“These honey bee losses reinforce what sciences continues to tell us; we must take immediate action to restrict pesticides contributing to bee declines,” Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said. “The longer we wait, the worse the situation becomes. If we do not suspend neonicotinoid pesticides immediately, we risk losing our beekeepers and harming important ecosystem functions upon which our food supply depends.”

A large and growing body of science has attributed alarming bee declines to several key factors, including exposure to the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, neonicotinoids. States, cities, universities, businesses and federal agencies in the U.S. have passed measures to restrict the use of these pesticides due to delay by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, these pesticides are still widely used despite mounting evidence that they kill bees outright and make them more vulnerable to pests, pathogens and other stressors.

Summary of the total overwinter colony losses (October 1 – April 1) of managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. across nine annual national surveys. The acceptable range is the average percentage of acceptable colony losses declared by the survey participants in each year of the survey. Photo credit: Bee Informed Partnership

In April 2015, the EPA announced a moratorium on new or expanded uses of neonicotinoids while it evaluates the risks posed to pollinators. In January 2016, the EPA released its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for the neonicotinoid imidacloprid and found it poses risks to honey bees.

The EPA is primarily relying on states and tribes to develop pollinator protection plans to address pesticide use, which was an initiative started by the Pollinator Health Task Force, a group established by President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum on pollinators.

This past year, the USDA, a co-chair of the Pollinator Health Task Force, was reported to suppress and silence its own scientists for speaking to the harms of neonicotinoids and glyphosate—an herbicide that is a leading contributor to monarch decline.

“The EPA is passing the buck to states and our regulatory agencies are letting the pesticide industry pull the wool over their eyes instead of seeking solutions,” Finck-Haynes said. “The EPA, USDA and Congress must adopt a federal, unified plan that eliminates the use of systemic pesticides to protect bees and beekeepers.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Monsanto Faces Rejection in U.S. Over GMO Soybean

Marion Nestle: 8 Books on Farming and Food That Deserve More Attention

Huge Win for the Oregon Spotted Frog

One in Five of World’s Plant Species at Risk of Extinction

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Energy
Greenpeace fracking protest in London's Parliament Square. DAVID HOLT / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

5 Earthquakes Recorded in England Just Days After Fracking Restarts

A string of small earthquakes were reported the town of Blackpool just days after fracking operations restarted in England after a seven year hiatus, raising concerns that the controversial drilling process could eventually trigger bigger temblors.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) detected five quakes since Thursday near the contentious Preston New Road site operated by UK shale gas firm Cuadrilla Resources.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly / CC BY-SA 2.0

New Green Strategy: Change the Electorate, Not the Election

By Tara Lohan

How little do elected officials care about climate change? Look no further than a recent U.S. Senate hearing about the biggest threats facing the country, where lawmakers asked a single question about global warming during the entire three-hour event.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
The ongoing Taylor Energy oil spill, photographed on Sept. 2, 2012. LEAN Louisiana Environmental Action Network

The Largest U.S. Oil Spill You've Probably Never Heard of Is Still Leaking After 14 Years

Yet another reason to #KeepItInTheGround. A 14-year chronic oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico could surpass BP's Deepwater Horizon spill as the largest offshore disaster in U.S. history, the Washington Post reported.

The spill stems from a Taylor Energy-owned production platform located 12 miles off the coast of Louisiana that was toppled by an underwater mudslide caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old activist from Sweden, addressed a crowd at what campaigners say was Finland's largest ever climate demonstration on Saturday. Svante Thunberg / Twitter

Teen Climate Activist to Crowd of Thousands: 'We Can't Save the World by Playing by the Rules'

By Jessica Corbett

Addressing some 10,000 people in Helsinki on Saturday at what some campaigners are calling Finland's largest ever climate demonstration, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg urged marchers to fight for the major systemic changes that experts have said are necessary to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avert a looming climate catastrophe.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
As more studies affirm the health benefits of nature, doctors are writing it into their prescriptions. Michael H / Getty Images

Natural Medicine: More Doctors Prescribing Time Outdoors

Birdwatch for long-tailed ducks. Search for shells. Sketch some snowdrops.

These are some of the prescriptions you might receive if you go to a doctor in the Shetland Islands of Scotland and say that you are suffering from stress, heart disease, diabetes, mental health problems or other chronic conditions.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
Enipniastes eximia, aka "headless chicken monster." NOAA

'Headless Chicken Monster' to Help Antarctic Conservation Efforts

Enypniasties eximia—a deep-sea swimming sea cucumber scientists have affectionately called the "headless chicken monster"has been caught on camera for the first time in Antarctic waters thanks to new underwater camera technology developed by Australian researchers.

Footage of the finned sea creature will be used to aid important marine conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Animal Collective performing at The Concord in Chicago on Feb. 2, 2016. swinfinfan / CC BY 2.0

Animal Collective’s 'Tangerine Reef': Myth, Mystery and Subtle Environmentalism

By David Colgan

In a way, you could consider coral reefs the rainforests of the oceans—dense, mysterious and full of life.

Covering less than two percent of the ocean floor, they are home to a quarter of all marine species. But unlike rainforests, a longtime conservation focus, corals have received relatively little attention. The alien-looking seascapes have captivated explorers, divers and others privileged enough to visit, but remained largely out of sight for most people.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Giant Petrel flying over the South Atlantic. Liam Quinn / CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s Giant Mice Vs. Rare Seabirds on This Remote South Atlantic Island

On a remote island in the South Atlantic, a evolutionary battle is playing out between giant mice and rare sea birds. So far, the mice are winning.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!