Thanks to Shinbone for prompting me to think about this conundrum. He is of course gloriously wrong, in his assertion that the number of colonies killed in America is less than 10,000,000. My bee-farmer contacts say that even this may be a gross under-estimate because it does not take into account the number of 'splits' which professional beeks have carried out in order to replace dead hives. However, my initial posting was about 'global' bee deaths. Thanks to Shinbone, I would now confidently state that the number of dead colonies within the USA is at least 10 million since 1994.
he may not believe me, as a mere limey of course, but Kim Flottum seems to know a bit about bees. And Bret Adee is the nation's largest beekeeper, is he not? Never mind, I'm sure they are just delusional as well.
What does that actually mean?
America is roughly 3,000 miles wide. Allocating 10,000,000 dead hives along 3,000 miles of road (route 80?) gives the figure of 3,333 hives per mile.
There are 1,760 yards in a mile, so that means you could just about place 2 hives, side by side, for every yard, of every one of those 3,000 miles from New York to San Francisco.
That's a lot of dead hives.
That's a lot of dead bees.
At 40,000 dead bees per hive, I make it 400 billion dead bees.
which says a lot for the sheer efficiency of neonicotinoids. They sure are good insecticides.
This article from the Washington Examiner really pays reading:
Honey bee deaths hit 40%, losses $1.6 billion
March 8, 2013
As the Environmental Protection Agency nears approval of another deadly new pesticide, the honey industry is revealing that the mysterious disease snuffing out bees, blamed in part on advanced pesticides, killed 40% of the nation's hives last year, bringing the total lost to at least $1.61 billion over the last six years.
Industry officials told the EPA this week that honey bee operators who travel the country pollinating the nation's vegetable, nut and fruit crops like apples orchards from Winchester, Va., to Thurmont, Md., are on the verge of extinction and that the further use of new insecticides in the neonicotinoid class could be their end.
"We have to conserve bees, we have to value them," pleaded Bret Adee, the nation's largest bee keeper, at an EPA pollinator summit this week. Adee, who lost 60 percent of his hives last year, added, "If we were talking about cows, this would be all over the news."
While the EPA is worried about the plight of the honey bee, responsible for pollinating about 70 percent of the world's organic foods, it is set to OK a new neonicotinoid called Sulfoxaflor, sought by southern growers of grain and cotton.
Several groups have joined beekeepers to beg the EPA to reverse course. The Center for Food Safety, the Pesticide Action Network, American Bird Conservancy and Friends of the Earth, are worried that Sulfoxaflor will kill bees, birds and some saltwater fish. They also claim that it hasn't been tested enough.
The honey industry believes that advanced pesticides are largely responsible for the curse called "colony collapse disorder," in which bees simply stop returning to their hives.
Kim Flottum, the editor of Bee Culture, the industry magazine, said that the "trainwreck" occurs mostly in commercial hives where bees are placed near pesticide covered grain fields. "The poison is everywhere corn is," he said.
Adee revealed that the industry has lost 5,650,000 hives over the past seven years. Each hive cost about $200, putting the loss at $1.13 billion. Add in the lost honey production from those hives, and the loss grows to $1.61 billion. "The problem is pretty large," said Adee, co-owner of Adee Honey Farms in Bruce, S.D.