Despite Elevated Loss Rate Since 2006, U.S. Honey Bee Colony Numbers Are Stable

A recent update from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) by Peyton Ferrier, stated that, “In 2006, large and mysterious losses of honey bee colonies led entomologists to classify a set of diagnostic symptoms as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and spurred major efforts to measure, quantify, and understand pollinator loss. New data show that between 2007 and 2013, winter colony loss rates in the U.S. averaged 30 percent, which is approximately double the loss rate of 15 percent previously thought to be normal.   Although average loss rates fell to 24 percent between 2014 and 2017 and CCD symptoms are less frequently associated with colony losses, colony health remains a concern.”

The ERS update noted that, “Elevated winter colony losses, however, have not resulted in enduring declines in colony numbers. Instead, the number of honey bee colonies in the U.S. is either stable or growing depending on the dataset being considered.”

“Despite Elevated Loss Rate Since 2006, U.S. Honey Bee Colony Numbers Are Stable,” by Peyton Ferrier. USDA- Economic Research Service (October 01, 2018).

The ERS article added that, “The stability of colony numbers and pollination services fees, however, suggests that beekeepers have, in aggregate, adjusted to elevated rates of colony loss. Since 2006, almond pollination fees have dropped slightly from earlier highs despite ongoing growth in almond acreage. At the State level, loss rates are statistically uncorrelated with year-to-year changes in the number of colonies, suggesting that beekeepers are able to replace lost colonies within the course of a calendar year.”

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