Update on Bee Colony Collapse Disorder
An update from our friends at PCFMA about the bee colony collapse disorder.
A new report from the U.S. government says the honeybee mortality rate soared to 42% in the past year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released figures that show winter deaths in honeybee colony deaths dropped, but there is a 23% increase over the previous year’s 34% mortality rate.
Nicotine-based pesticides (neonicotinoid) have been linked to deaths of honeybees and other pollinators. This insecticide is applied to seeds before planting which makes the plant toxic to insects. Studies have shown the chemical absorbed through pollen and nectar weakens bees and affects their abilities to forage and navigate. But other countries use these pesticides and yet see no decline in bee populations. Australia and Canada use nicotine-based insecticides and notice no bee colony collapse. So the answer to its ability to harm bees is up in the air.
California almond growers have been especially hard hit. They have reported high losses and along with the drought, have had a hard time getting trees pollinated and getting enough water to the trees. Almond trees need more bees for pollination than other crops.
Tomás Pascual, a beekeeper who works with Castellanos Farm, a stone fruit grower in Dinuba, says, “It’s hard to tell exactly what’s causing the bees to die. Last year we bought and trucked in 25 containers of bees from north of Sacramento and this last winter 10 of them died.”
He thinks his bees are dying due to several factors, such as drought, varroa mites, and insecticides. “No water means there are no blossoms and blossoms with little nectar in them. That means fewer bees and less honey,” Tomas says. And he thinks that the sick bees are contaminating the healthy ones when they fly from one hive to the other.
There will be a shortage of bees this growing season. And it will be hard to find enough bees to replace them. Next year will be hard to assess. For more information please visit the USDA website to learn more.