Honeybees Had a Pretty Awful Year

Photo: Istockphoto

The Bee Informed Partnership and the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual survey on the wellbeing of American bees, and it turns out they aren’t doing so great. Thousands of beekeepers reported losing about 42 percent of their colonies in the past year. From 2013–14, there was a 34 percent loss. More bees died in the summer than in the winter, which is especially odd, given that the season is when honeybees take the spotlight. What’s causing the bee deaths? Some scientists point to pesticides, others blame parasites and poor nutrition owing to a loss of plant diversity. Regardless, if bees keep dying at such high levels, pollination services will become more expensive — which means food could get pricier, too. Meanwhile, other bees are being moved up from J.V. to help pollinate plants. The House Agriculture subcommittee on biotechnology, horticulture, and research discussed bee health yesterday, and a White House Task Force on Pollinator Health is supposed to release a report soon.