Beekeepers across the U.S. lost 44% of their honeybee colonies during the year spanning April 2015 to April 2016, according to the latest preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey. Rates of both winter loss and summer loss — and total annual losses — worsened compared with last year. This marks the second consecutive survey year that summer loss rates rivaled winter loss rates.
The survey, which asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the health and survival rates of their honeybee colonies, is conducted each year by the Bee Informed Partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America, with funding from USDA. Survey results for this year and all previous years are publicly available on the Bee Informed website.
“We’re now in the second year of high rates of summer loss, which is cause for serious concern,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an Assistant Professor of Entomology at the University of Maryland and Project Director for the Bee Informed Partnership. “Some winter losses are normal and expected. But the fact beekeepers are losing bees in the summer, when bees should be at their healthiest, is quite alarming.”
Beekeepers who responded to the survey lost a total of 44.1% of their colonies over the course of the year. This marks an increase of 3.5% more than the previous study year (2014-2015), when loss rates were found to be 40.6 %. Winter loss rates increased from 22.3% in the previous winter to 28.1% this past winter, while summer loss rates increased from 25.3% to 28.1%.