Now that spring is here and the state of wintered over bees can be assessed, the news is not good. A survey conducted by the Agricultural Research Service and the Apiary Inspectors of America among beekeepers reported a 36% loss of colonies over the winter, on top of a 17% loss last year. Colony Collapse Disorder continues to make inroads among the bee population. Science Daily.
The Buffalo News has an in-depth article on how bees are faring in New York. Honey production fell by 20% to 40% last year, but the real problem is pollination: Up to 70% of what we eat is pollinated by insects. New York beekeepers are experiencing big losses; blueberries and apples are two important crops from New York that may be affected this year.
While agricultural specialists in every state are pulling out all the stops to discover the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, everything from cell phone towers to pesticides, The Organic Consumers Association is taking a more wholistic approach. Causes are probably multiple with any one of a number of factors pushing bees over the edge. (I think the human equivalent would be the huge increase in autoimmune disorders and the late development of allergies and asthma in adults.) The Association sees organic settings as providing a buffer for colonies. They have a very informative page up at their site.
Picture by Aussiegill at Flickr.