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A Third of US Bee Colony Died Last Year, Here's Why It Is Still Good News

May 29, 2017 11:56 AM EDT
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There's a loss of a third of bee colonies last year but experts still consider it a good news. This is because it is the lowest number in the last seven years.
(Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A survey recently found that beekeepers lost about 33.2 percent of their colonies this year. This is considered an improvement compared to the data from the previous decade.

The decline in bee population is considered a problem. There are a lot of factors involved in the decline of bee population like insecticides, illness and climate change. Based on the new survey by the Bee Informed Partnership and the Apiary Inspectors of America, there's still an impending problem but it is drastically better compared to previous years.

The survey included 4,963 beekeepers in the U.S. Based on the data, a third of the nation's honey bee colonies were lost from April 2016 to March 2017. Why is it considered a ray of hope then? The average colony loss in the last seven years is 40 percent.

"It's good news in that the numbers are down, but it's certainly not a good picture," survey director Dennis vanEngelsdorp, said in an interview with CBS News. "It's gone from horrible to bad."

Conservationists may have been doing something to lessen the colony loss in bees in the previous year. Reports say that the U.S. government set a goal of reducing bee colony losses to 15 percent annually. This year is the lowest percentage at 21 percent since the survey started in 2006.

Are authorities managing the problem better? It is possible but there are other problems facing the bee population. Entomologists believe that products released to fight mites helped reduced the colony destruction. But there are also climate change, urbanization and other aspects that need to be addressed in order to lower the bee colony loss in the coming years.

U.S. farmers bear the costs in fighting colony death, they rely on bees to pollinate $15 billion worth of crops per year, according to Gizmodo. The problem with fighting bee colony loss is that some diseases threaten to spread to those uninfected areas.

"To keep healthy bees, you need a good environment and you need your neighbors to keep healthy bees," Nathalie Steinhauer, the data collection lead on the survey said. "Honeybee health is a community matter."

What makes it more difficult for entomologists and scientists fight the bee colony loss is that once a prevention is discovered for a certain bee colony disease, new also surface.


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