The number of U.S. honeybee colonies has risen 27% since last year, which is great news since, for the last decade, the honeybee population had been on a significant decline.
Parasites and colony collapse disorder have been blamed for much of the decline.
Varroa mites, parasites found in beehives, have been a culprit behind some of the loss. These parasites survive by sucking the blood of the bees, causing them to die.
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when most of the worker bees in a colony abandon their colony and leave behind a queen. Food and a few nurse bees are all that remains.
Pesticides have emerged as one of the prime suspects responsible for the occurrence of CCD. Environmental groups have expressed alarm over this possibility, even though pesticide manufacturers claim their products contribute in a minor way to the falling population.
“It’s really tricky. Maybe it’s pesticides, maybe it’s not. But when I eliminate everything else, it’s a distinct possibility,” Tim May, a beekeeper in Harvard, Illinois, and the vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation says.
Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death.
The EPA is currently reviewing neonicotinoid pesticides to asses their potential risk to bees.
— HealthRanger (@HealthRanger) August 7, 2017
After completing their risk assessment of neonicotinoids, the EPA will “pursue risk mitigation, as appropriate.”
Beekeepers have tirelessly worked to replenish the losses we have experienced this past decade, and global awareness has been a positive factor in turning the decline around.