U.S. beekeepers repeatedly reported a steady decline in honeybee populations over the course of the past decade but the situation worsened last year. According to a recent survey led by an professional group, beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies in the last 12 months.
But this doesn’t only mean that honey production will be severely affected. Crops of any sorts will face the consequences since honeybees do the hard work in pollinating them. And with no one around to do the job, fruit trees, for instance, would no longer be able to bear fruits.
Bee Informed Partnership reported Wednesday that beekeepers lost 42.1 percent of honeybee colonies in the last 12 months, which is a nearly 8 percent decline from the previous 12-month periods in 2013 and 2014.
Additionally, Bee Informed Partnership said that the current situation is the worst since the group started conducting its annual surveys about five years ago. Beekeepers also reported that the honeybee death rate during summer exceeded the one usually recorded during winter for the first time ever.
Prof. Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the lead-author of the survey and a honeybee expert at the University of Maryland, explained that honeybee population deaths are natural in winter because winter is “a stressful season.” Yet, he acknowledged that he was “shocked” to learn that the same phenomenon repeated in summer with no apparent reason.
Last year, farmers, who often rent beehives from beekeepers for pollination purposes, also reported decreasing crop production linked to an unprecedented decline in honeybee populations.
On the other hand, experts reassure us that bees will not go extinct, but the problem is hard to tackle because we don’t know yet the exact causes behind the phenomenon. Over the course of the last decade, bees were confronted with another problem – colony collapse disorder.
Colony collapse disorder is a mysterious phenomenon linked to bees leaving their hives and mass dieing in remote locations without a reason. This “disorder” accelerated the death rate of honeybees worldwide from 10 percent, which was the average for a year, to 40 or 50 percent, which we witness today, although the cases decreased in recent years.
Prof. vanEngelsdorp believes that the sharp decline in honeybee population may be caused by intensive farming, which led to the disappearance of huge patches of land once covered with wildflowers leaving honeybees to starve to death.
Other causes my be linked to the extensive use of pesticides, although manufacturers claim that their products are safe as long as they are used in the quantities specified in instructions.
Image Source: Indiana Public Media
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