Survey Reports Latest Honey Bee Losses
By Kim Kaplan
April 29, 2010
Losses of managed honey bee colonies
nationwide totaled 33.8 percent from all causes from October 2009 to April
2010, according to a survey conducted by the
Apiary Inspectors of America
(AIA) and the Agricultural Research
Service (ARS). Beekeepers identified starvation, poor weather, and weak
colonies going into winter as the top reasons for mortality in their
This is an increase from overall losses of 29 percent reported from a
similar survey covering the winter of 2008-2009, and similar to the 35.8
percent losses for the winter of 2007-2008.
The continued high rate of losses are worrying, especially considering
losses occurring over the summer months were not being captured, notes
Pettis, research leader of ARS'
Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal
intramural scientific research agency. The survey was conducted by Pettis and
past AIA presidents Dennis vanEngelsdorp and Jerry Hayes. The three researchers
said that continued losses of this magnitude are not economically sustainable
for commercial beekeepers.
The 28 percent of beekeeping operations that reported some of their colonies
perished without dead bees presenta sign of Colony Collapse Disorder
(CCD)lost 44 percent of their colonies. This compares to 26 percent of
beekeepers reporting such dead colonies in the 2008-2009 winter and 32 percent
in the 2007-2008 winter. Beekeepers that did not report their colonies having
CCD lost 25 percent of their colonies.
As this was an interview-based survey, it was not possible to differentiate
between verifiable cases of CCD and colonies lost as the result of other causes
that share the "absence of dead bees" as a symptom. The cause of CCD
is still unknown.
The survey checked on about 22.4 percent of the country's estimated 2.46
million colonies. The survey reports only winter losses and does not capture
colony losses that occur throughout the summer when queens or entire colonies
fail and need to be replaced. Those summer losses can be significant.
A complete analysis of the survey data will be published later this year.
The abstract can be found at
More information about CCD can be found at