Survey Reports Latest Honey Bee Losses
Kaplan May 19, 2009
WASHINGTON--Honey bee colony losses nationwide were approximately 29
percent from all causes from September 2008 to April 2009, according to a
survey conducted by the Apiary
Inspectors of America (AIA) and the
U.S. Department of
This is less than the overall losses of about 36 percent from 2007 to
2008, and about 32 percent from 2006 to 2007, that have been reported in
"While the drop in losses is encouraging, losses of this magnitude are
economically unsustainable for commercial beekeeping," said
Pettis, research leader of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. ARS is USDA's principal intramural
scientific research agency. The survey was conducted by Pettis; Dennis
vanEngelsdorp, president of AIA; and Jerry Hayes, AIA past president.
About 26 percent of apiaries surveyed reported that some of their
colonies died of colony collapse
disorder (CCD), down from 36 percent of apiaries in 2007-2008. CCD is
characterized by the sudden, complete absence of honey bees in a colony. The
cause of CCD is still unknown.
As this was an interview-based survey, it is not possible to
differentiate between verifiable cases of CCD and colonies lost as the result
of other causes that share the "absence of dead bees" as a symptom.
However, among beekeepers that reported any colonies collapsing
without the presence of dead bees, each lost an average of 32 percent of their
colonies in 2008-2009, while apiaries that did not lose any bees with symptoms
of CCD each lost an average of 26 percent of their colonies.
To strengthen the beekeeping industry, ARS recently began a five-year
areawide research program to improve honey bee health, survivorship and
pollination. Honey bee pollination is critical to agriculture, adding more than
$15 billion to the value of American crops each year.
The survey checked on about 20 percent of the country's 2.3 million
A complete analysis of the survey data will be published later this
year. An abstract of the data is available on line at: