Re: The usual suspects
I'm not sure anyone is in a position to see the whole picture. We know there are agendas out there, we know there is an ongoing battle between big ag and environmentalists that bees and beekeepers have been drawn into. I look with suspicion at the endless stories that pop up in this internet age talking about the massive bee die off nationwide as it really doesn't seem to be confirmed by the numbers. The majority of hives in the US are owned by commercial beekeepers that transport their hives to warmer climes for the winter so I'm not sure how big an effect the harsh winter had in terms of lowering bee numbers. Beesource members are primarily a collection of hobbyists and sideliners which gives us a snapshot of how backyard beekeepers are doing but not much of a nationwide picture of overall hive numbers.
Was there a big die off in the almonds? My guess is what occurred is probably pretty normal, I know I have seen damaged colonies myself almost every year but personally heard only good reports from beekeepers this past year. I'm not saying hive damage from fungicides is acceptable only that it isn't something new. Getting a lot of beekeepers together in one room for a survey at the end of the bloom, when beekeepers are at their busiest probably is though. Had I been there I would have raised my hand as well when asked if I had seen damaged colonies......then I would have been splitting the next day. I know one large beekeeper who was there and testified that he had seen losses who stated a month later that perhaps he needed a few more losses.....he was trying to figure out where to go with his hives as they were boiling with bees and it was still too cold up north to move his bees to the Dakotas yet.
Bee losses have always been cyclical, nothing new there. Beekeeping challenges are greater than they were 30 years ago, we know that as well. Personally, now that we move all our bees to Texas each fall, I see lower losses now than I saw pre-varroa when I mostly wintered up north. Personally I just chuckle at most of the dire news reports as I see truck load after truck load of bees being shipped into the Dakotas for honey production.
"People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney