Report Says Fewer Bees Perished Over the Winter, but the Reason is a Mystery

The New York Times   By John Schwartz   May 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...

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