2020-2021 honey bee colony loss second highest on record

“These bee losses highlight the disturbing lack of progress from the EPA in the fight to protect pollinators from toxic pesticides.”

Bees crawl over larvae and capped honey cells on a hive frame. Larvae are especially vulnerable to pests like Varroa mites.

Beekeepers have lost nearly half of their colonies since April 2020, which is the second highest loss on records since 2006. 

According to Common Dreams, the non-profit Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) said in its preliminary analysis that beekeepers—ranging from small backyard keepers to commercial operations—lost 45.5% of their colonies between April 2020 and April 2021. The results are based on a survey of over 3,300 U.S. beekeepers managing a combined 192,384 colonies.

“This year’s survey results show that colony losses are still high. Though we see fluctuations from year to year, the worrisome part is we see no progression towards a reduction of losses,” says Nathalie Steinhauer, BIP’s science coordinator and a post-doctoral researcher in the University of Maryland Department of Entomology. 

According to the BIP website, the main causes of colony loss are: 

  • The parasitic Varroa destructor mite
  • Queen issues among commercial beekeepers 

Starvation, weather, and pesticides were among the other main causes as well. 

Many blame the EPA’s lack of action for this loss. 

“These bee losses highlight the disturbing lack of progress from the EPA in the fight to protect pollinators from toxic pesticides. It will take meaningful policy protection and rapid market change to reverse these unsustainable declines in honey bees and to protect the future of our food supply,” says Jason Davidson, senior food and agriculture campaigner with Friends of the Earth. 

“Unfortunately, our pollinators weren’t immune from [former President Donald] Trump’s war on science and the environment. In fact, they were a target, as the previous administration actually fought to allow more bee-killing pesticides back on the market. Now, i’s up to us to work overtime to protect them, which is why I’ve reintroduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA),” says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). 

SAPA suspends the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides harmful to bees and other pollinators until an independent board of experts determine that they are safe to use, based on strong scientific assessment, reports Beyond Pesticides


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