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Report Says Fewer Bees Perished Over the Winter, but the Reason Is a Mystery
By JOHN SCHWARTZMAY 15, 2014

Honeybees could be on their way back, according to a new federal report.
The collapse of bee populations around the country in recent years has led to warnings of a crisis in foods grown with the help of pollination. Over the past eight years, beekeepers have reported winter losses of nearly 30 percent of their bees on average.
The new survey, published on Thursday, found that the loss of managed honeybee colonies from all causes dropped to 23.2 percent nationwide over the winter that just ended, down from 30.5 percent the year before. Losses reported by some individual beekeepers were even higher. Colony losses reached a peak of 36 percent in 2007 to 2008.
The survey of thousands of beekeepers was conducted by the Department of Agriculture and the Bee Informed Partnership, an organization that studies apian health and management.
“It’s better than some of the years we’ve suffered,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a director of the partnership and an entomologist at the University of Maryland. Still, he noted, a 23 percent loss “is not a good number.” He continued, “We’ve gone from horrible to bad.”
He said there was no way to say at this point why the bees did better this year.
Jeff Pettis, the co-author of the survey who heads the federal government’s bee research laboratory in Beltsville, Md., warned that “one year does not make a trend.”
A prominent environmental group found “an urgent need for action” in the new report. Lisa Archer, director the food and technology program for the organization Friends of the Earth, said, “These dire honey bee numbers add to a consistent pattern of unsustainable bee losses in recent years.”
While much attention has been paid to colony collapse disorder, in which masses of bees disappear from hives, that phenomenon has not been encountered in the field in the past three years, Dr. vanEngelsdorp said. Instead, what has emerged is a complex set of pressures on managed and wild bee populations that includes disease, a parasite known as the varroa mite, pesticides, extreme weather and poor nutrition tied to a loss of forage plants.
Treating colonies for the varroa mite, an Asian parasite that first reached the United States in 1987, seems to have the most direct effect on stemming losses, Dr. vanEngelsdorp said. “The beekeepers that are treating for varroa mites lose significantly fewer colonies than beekeepers that are not treating colonies for varroa mites,” and those who treat them four or five times a year do better than those who treat them only once or twice, he said.
The new report will not satisfy those who argue that the loss of bees can be traced to a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, especially one manufactured by Bayer.
Those views are supported by papers such as one published this month in the journal Bulletin of Insectology that found that six of 12 previously healthy colonies exposed to the pesticides died and all exhibited symptoms of colony collapse disorder in the winter.
Bayer attacked that study, saying that the lead author, Chensheng Lu of the Harvard School of Public Health, “greatly misdiagnosed colony collapse disorder” in the colonies he studied, and that he used dosages of the pesticide 10 times greater than what bees might encounter in the wild.
In an interview, Dr. Lu said that Bayer should reveal what it believes an “environmentally relevant” level of the pesticide should be.
Dr. vanEngelsdorp said that Dr. Lu and his colleagues gave the bees doses far beyond what they would encounter in nature, and over longer periods of time, so the new study only shows that “high doses of ‘neonics’ kill bees — which is not surprising.”
Rather than looking for a single chemical or class of chemicals, Dr. Pettis said, it is important to assess the interplay of parasites, illness, food sources and pesticides. “Nobody likes that kind of complicated story, but year to year, all those factors could play into colony health,” he added.
Eric Mussen of the University of California, Davis, said colony collapse disorder and other pressures have made beekeepers focus more intently on maintenance of their colonies.
“People are being forced now to look more carefully at their bees,” he said. “If you don’t take care of them, you lose them.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/16/us/honeybees-report.html?_r=1
 

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Or maybe more beekeepers are sharing the knowledge from each other on beesource, learning to raise a tougher bee.
 

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Or maybe it was so cold it kept people indoors and out of the hives for longer periods of time........:D
 

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Eric Mussen of the University of California, Davis, said colony collapse disorder and other pressures have made beekeepers focus more intently on maintenance of their colonies.
That must be what it is. We should be making little hospital beds and Iv stands to care for the sick and wounded bees.:rolleyes:
 

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This is good news, but I find the results from the Winter of Horrors incorrect. Here in Ohio I have heard of any where from 40 to 60 percent. My self I lost 100% So have many in my neak of the woods.
 

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This is good news, but I find the results from the Winter of Horrors incorrect. Here in Ohio I have heard of any where from 40 to 60 percent. My self I lost 100% So have many in my neak of the woods.
I lost 40% and thought I did good it was a bad winter in these parts.
 

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This is good news, but I find the results from the Winter of Horrors incorrect. Here in Ohio I have heard of any where from 40 to 60 percent. My self I lost 100% So have many in my neak of the woods.
Yes, in your neck of the woods. An isolated sample. Anecdotal evidence, not necessarily representative of the whole. To determine what has gone on across the whole Country surveys need to be done and data analysed. Just because I had 30 or 40% loss doesn't mena that's what happened to everyone or even what was Nationally the average.
 

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"A prominent environmental group found “an urgent need for action” in the new report. Lisa Archer, director the food and technology program for the organization Friends of the Earth, said, “These dire honey bee numbers add to a consistent pattern of unsustainable bee losses in recent years.” "​


Unsustainable bee losses? Seems to me that for the most part we have been weathering the losses pretty well. Maybe if things come to an end, then we can say that what went on before was not sustainable. Otherwise, it seems a little early to say it isn't.
 

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A prominent environmental group found “an urgent need for action” in the new report. Lisa Archer, director the food and technology program for the organization Friends of the Earth, said, “These dire honey bee numbers add to a consistent pattern of unsustainable bee losses in recent years.
Ain't that typical of the alarmist language those people use.

She calls for an "urgent need for action", and goes on to say that the losses are "unsustainable".

Unsustainable, means bee numbers are dropping unsustainably. What has really happened is that bee numbers have increased. Therefore, any losses are sustainable. ie, they can be sustained.

My heart is with these greeny people, but I wish they were honest. Dishonesty and deception seem to be a common thread through so many of these organisations and makes it hard for me to support them, even when I believe in the cause.

The unfortunate bottom line for these organisations, is that if they stepped up & said "good news folks, there are more and more bees every year", they would not have flocks of concerned citizens donating money to them to "save the bees". They would be out of a job.
 

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they would not have flocks of concerned citizens donating money to them to "save the bees". They would be out of a job.
Kind of like any politician. If an elected official did there job right they would be out of a job. In a very short period of time there would be nothing left to do.
 

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Not really. Zero rate of joblessness in my apiaries, compared to 6.5% human US unemployment.
 

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Id say the north got hammered. Everyone i know lost at least 40% in Ohio this year. Some folks lost everything. I lost 40ish hives out of 125. Things did not go well in the north this year. Honey crop is down also.
 

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It was bad enough in Ohio that when I reported my losses of 15-20% at our bee association meeting I was practically accused of lying.
 

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I wish they were all honust, but Instead they are human. When the Greeny says the sky is falling and Dr. Bayer sez move along, nothing to see over here - it's just another normal day.
 
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