Rate of honey bee loss remains steady

May 23, 2011 at 5:31 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- Losses from managed U.S. honey bee colonies were 30 percent for the 2010/2011 winter, about equal to losses reported in the four previous years, a survey found.

The annual survey was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Apiary Inspectors of America, a USDA release said Monday.

"The lack of increase in losses is marginally encouraging in the sense that the problem does not appear to be getting worse for honey bees and beekeepers," Jeff Pettis, an entomologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service, said. "But continued losses of this size put tremendous pressure on the economic sustainability of commercial beekeeping."

Sixty-one percent of beekeepers responding to the survey reported having losses greater than 13 percent, the level of losses most beekeepers said would be economically acceptable.

Thirty-one percent reported losing at least some of their colonies without finding dead bee bodies -- one of the symptoms that defines Colony Collapse Disorder, the USDA said.

A total of 5,572 beekeepers, who manage more than 15 percent of the country's estimated 2.68 million colonies, responded to the survey.

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