This Past Winter Saw the Highest Honeybee Colony Losses On Record

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Commercial honeybee colonies have had a rough run. And it’s not over yet. The annual loss rate for honeybees during the year ending in April rose to 40.7 percent, up slightly over the annual average of 38.7 percent, according to the Bee Informed Partnership, a nonprofit group associated with the University of Maryland.

More troubling was this past winter’s losses of 37.7 percent. Winter bees tend to live longer, clustering in the hive to keep the queen warm. This winter’s losses were 8.9 percentage points higher than the survey average and the highest winter loss since the annual bee survey began 13 years ago.

Karen Rennich, the partnership’s executive director, said the nonprofit has been collecting loss data from beekeepers and conducting a longer survey of management data since 2010. “We’re trying to drill down and see which management practices are correlated with lower mortality,” she said.

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