Second Highest Honey Bee Loss in 15 Years Documented

July 2, 2021 |The second highest bee loss in 15 years has been reported by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) in its 2020–2021 National Colony Loss and Management Survey, released on June 30. For the “winter” period of October 1, 2020 through April 1, 2021, approximately 32% of managed bee colonies in the U.S. were lost. This represents an increase of 9.6% over the prior year’s winter loss and is roughly 4% higher than the previous 14-year average rate of loss. For all of the past year (April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021) the colony loss was 45.5%. Beyond Pesticides has covered the related issues of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the ongoing and devastating impacts of pesticides on bees and other pollinators, and the larger context of what has been called the “insect apocalypse.” These recent BIP data appear to indicate that “we,” writ large, are failing to remedy these problems. Three out of four food crops globally depend on pollinators, at least in part. Commercially kept bees account for a significant portion of pollination of some U.S. crops; almonds are the leading crop, followed by apples and melons. The commercial bee business is huge—a $691 million dollar industry operating across nearly 12,000 managed crop pollination businesses. Farm Progress writes, “Crops that need pollination in the U.S. are valued at about $81.5 billion. . . .Honey bee pollination contributes 23 percent of that value.” [Steinhauer, Nathalie et al. U.S. beekeepers continue to report high colony loss rates, no clear improvement. Science News. June 2021.]