Colony Collapse Disorder On The Decline

Bee Positive

Let’s face it, honey bee colony losses in recent years have been scary and devastating, not only to the beekeeping industry, but to the entire agriculture industry. Maintaining a plentiful national food supply requires pollination by bees, so anything that limits or causes significant honey bee losses severely limits the foods available. But recent surveys have found that honey bee losses are down slightly this year, a positive development but one that researchers are cautiously optimistic about.

According to a survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and USDA between September 2008 and early April 2009, honey bee losses nationwide were approximately 29% from all causes. This compares to losses of about 36% from 2007 to 2008 and 32% from 2006 to 2007.

“While the drop in losses is encouraging, the rate of loss is economically unsustainable for commercial beekeeping, as the average operational loss increased from 31% in the 2007/2008 winter season to 34% in the 2008/2009 winter.” says Jeff Pettis, research leader of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, MD. The survey was conducted by Pettis, Dennis van Engelsdorp, president of AIA, and Jerry Hayes, AIA past president.

The survey checked on about 20% of the country’s 2.3 million honey bee colonies.

About 26% of the apiaries surveyed reported that some of their colonies died of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), down from 36% of apiaries reporting CCD as a cause in 2007-2008. CCD is characterized by the complete absence of bees in dead colonies or in apiaries. The cause of CCD is yet unknown.

Because it was an interview-based survey, the researchers were not able to differentiate between verifiable cases of CCD and colonies lost as the result of other cases that share the absence of dead bees as a symptom.

The apiaries that reported some of their colonies died without the presence of dead bees lost an average of 32% of their colonies, while beekeep-ers who reported not losing any bees with symptoms of CCD lost an average of 26% of their colonies.

Of greater concern, only 15% of all colonies lost during the 2008-2009 winter died with symptoms of CCD, compared to a 60% colony loss with CCD-like symptoms in the winter of 2007-2008; however 58% of all beekeepers reported above normal losses last year, losing a total of 33% of their colonies compared to the minority of beekeepers who claimed a normal or below normal loss of 17%.

“While losses from CCD may have decreased last winter, losses from other causes remain a significant concern,” says Pettis. “These findings emphasize the urgent need for research, not only of CCD, but of general honey bee health.”

Preventing More Losses

To strengthen the beekeeping industry, in 2008 ARS began its five-year, Areawide Research Program to Improve Honey Bee Health, Survivorship, and Pollination Availability. Pettis is coordinator of the new program.

“At the end of the five-year cycle, we’ll have specific recommendations that the beekeeper could use on how to manage bees more efficiently during long-range transport for pollination. We want to be able to transfer that technology to be used by the end-user,” says John Adamcyzk, the acting research leader for ARS’s Honey Bee Research Unit in Weslaco, TX, and head of ARS’s Beneficial Insects Research Unit, which is also in Weslaco.

For beekeepers to continue meeting growers’ pollination demands, research must solve problems caused by parasitic mites and other pests, diseases, and CCD. The areawide approach will bring together recent improvements in mite-resistant bee stocks, nutrition, and pest- and disease-management in a comprehensive management strategy.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

Disease ControlWashington Concord Grape Growers Wrestle With Blackleaf
October 23, 2014
Physiological disorder manifested due to unusually hot and sunny summer. Read More
More Vegetables7 Green Bean Varieties Geared For Florida Growers
October 23, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight several high-performance selections for producers in the Sunshine State. Read More
MarketingTomato Survey Tracks Consumer Trends
October 23, 2014
Results indicate how labeling matters in purchasing decisions. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Growers Get Box Tax Relief
October 23, 2014
Citrus Commission votes to put dollars back in producers’ hands to spur reinvestment. Read More
Farm ManagementBill Gates Uploading Lots Of Florida Farmland
October 22, 2014
Recent acquisition for the Microsoft icon involves more than 4,500 acres for nearly $28 million. Read More
GenNext GrowersRegister Now For The GenNext Growers Webcast
October 22, 2014
In the first installment of the GenNext Webcast Series, you will learn how to engage with lawmakers and ag associations to help shape a better future for your business and for agriculture. Read More
FruitsAnnual Santa Maria Strawberry Meeting Approaching
October 22, 2014
The meeting will focus on IPM practices, weed management, updates on fumigation, and more. Read More
Apples & PearsUSApple’s AppletizeMe Personality Quiz Help Consumers Find Ideal Apple Varieties and Perfect Food Pairings
October 22, 2014
Award-winning national apple month campaign returns with more featured varieties and informative videos. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million To Stimulate Research And Development Innovation
October 22, 2014
The grants will provide resources to help small operations create breakthroughs, says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read More
CitrusEPA Launches Program To Reduce Pesticide Drift
October 22, 2014
The voluntary star-rating program aims to protect people, wildlife and the environment. Read More

The Latest

Disease ControlWashington Concord Grape Growers Wrestle With Blackleaf
October 23, 2014
Physiological disorder manifested due to unusually hot and sunny summer. Read More
More Vegetables7 Green Bean Varieties Geared For Florida Growers
October 23, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight several high-performance selections for producers in the Sunshine State. Read More
MarketingTomato Survey Tracks Consumer Trends
October 23, 2014
Results indicate how labeling matters in purchasing decisions. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Growers Get Box Tax Relief
October 23, 2014
Citrus Commission votes to put dollars back in producers’ hands to spur reinvestment. Read More
Farm ManagementBill Gates Uploading Lots Of Florida Farmland
October 22, 2014
Recent acquisition for the Microsoft icon involves more than 4,500 acres for nearly $28 million. Read More
GenNext GrowersRegister Now For The GenNext Growers Webcast
October 22, 2014
In the first installment of the GenNext Webcast Series, you will learn how to engage with lawmakers and ag associations to help shape a better future for your business and for agriculture. Read More
FruitsAnnual Santa Maria Strawberry Meeting Approaching
October 22, 2014
The meeting will focus on IPM practices, weed management, updates on fumigation, and more. Read More
Apples & PearsUSApple’s AppletizeMe Personality Quiz Help Consumers…
October 22, 2014
Award-winning national apple month campaign returns with more featured varieties and informative videos. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million To Stimulate Research And Devel…
October 22, 2014
The grants will provide resources to help small operations create breakthroughs, says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read More
CitrusEPA Launches Program To Reduce Pesticide Drift
October 22, 2014
The voluntary star-rating program aims to protect people, wildlife and the environment. Read More
CitrusMcCrometer Introduces New Ag Management Mobile App
October 22, 2014
The app displays data on weather, ET, soil moisture, water flow, and more. Read More
Apples & PearsNew York Apple Growers Partner With Grocer To Introduce…
October 22, 2014
First apples of this new variety to hit Wegmans stores as part of a marketing effort. Read More
CitrusAgriculture, Interior Departments Partner To Measure Co…
October 22, 2014
Goal is to provide science-based information for watershed wellness. Read More
Stone FruitIntroducing A Gem Of A Peach For Central Florida
October 22, 2014
The newest variety to come from the UF Stone Fruit Breeding Program is another “gem,” UFGem! This peach variety is Read More
CitrusIt’s Time For Young Farming Leaders To Engage [Op…
October 21, 2014
Florida Grower editor Frank Giles says there are capable and talented youths in the ag field ready to step up and take the reins. Read More
Farm ManagementResearchers Finding Biofuel Fits For Florida
October 21, 2014
Alternative crops identified that are suited for the state's climate and can easily be processed for power. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches New Award To Recognize Produ…
October 21, 2014
Award recognizes innovation that enhances the role of produce in creating better lives. Read More
FruitsCalifornia Department Of Food And Agriculture Awards $3…
October 21, 2014
State Water Efficiency And Enhancement Program highlights projects implement irrigation systems that reduce water and energy use. Read More