On Top of Colony Collapse, Beekeepers Facing Losses from Extreme Weather

Washington Post writer Laura Reiley reported last week that, “Commercial honeybee colonies have had a rough run. And it’s not over yet. The annual loss rate for honeybees during the year ending in April rose to 40.7 percent, up slightly over the annual average of 38.7 percent, according to the Bee Informed Partnership, a nonprofit group associated with the University of Maryland.

More troubling was this past winter’s losses of 37.7 percent. Winter bees tend to live longer, clustering in the hive to keep the queen warm. This winter’s losses were 8.9 percentage points higher than the survey average and the highest winter loss since the annual bee survey began 13 years ago.

“Karen Rennich, the partnership’s executive director, said the nonprofit has been collecting loss data from beekeepers and conducting a longer survey of management data since 2010. ‘We’re trying to drill down and see which management practices are correlated with lower mortality,’ she said.”

The Post article noted that, “Rennich points to the three months of California wildfires, with bees affected by smoke and by the lack of plants on which to forage. She also cited the wet winter in the Midwest and the spring’s slow planting schedule.”

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