Honey bee (Apis mellifera) collecting pollen. Photo by: Jon Sullivan.

Nearly a third of managed honeybee colonies in America died out or disappeared over the winter, an annual survey found on Wednesday. The decline—which was far worse than the winter before—threatens the survival of some bee colonies.

The heavy losses of pollinators also threatens the country's food supply, researchers said. The US Department of Agriculture has estimated that honeybees contribute some $20bn to the economy every year.

Bee keepers lost 31% of their colonies in late 2012 and through the early months of this year—about double what they might expect through natural causes, survey found. The survey offered the latest evidence of a mysterious disorder that has been destroying bee colonies for seven years. The strange phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder came to light in 2006, when the first reports came in of bees abandoning their hives and disappearing.

In a report last week, the federal government blamed a combination of factors for the rapid decline of honeybees, including a parasitic mite, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition and genetics, as well as the effects of pesticides. But scientists and campaign groups have singled out the use of a widely used class of pesticides, which scramble the honeybees' sense of navigation.

The European Union has imposed a two-year ban on such pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, to study their effects on bee populations. However, the US authorities say there is no clear evidence pointing to pesticides as the main culprit for honeybees' decline. [continue]

Tags: agriculture, bees, extinction, food, food security, parasites, pesticides, pollination

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for the horrific news. Whole Foods demonstrates what the consequences would be if we lost all of them.

please google this as a counterpoint.
"Bayer: Restricting neonicotinoids won’t improve bee health"
article I found.
scary pix. got any real proof? I mean..what is the basis for the before and after pix? and why does it have anything to do with the reality of food supply?

There's plenty of evidence. I recently read a study of how neo-nicotinamide pesticides place a heavy metabolic burden on developing bee larvae. The US government is captive to pesticide producers as far a s I'm concerned, and won't act till the public is literally starving.

Another graphic example from Whole Foods' "Give Bees A Chance":

No idea who originated that punny but apt slogan!

A good graphic from the "Bees Trees Frogs Elephants" blog:

All we are saying is... GIVE BEES A CHANCE / Say NO to insecticides that harm bees [bee going through peace sign]

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