More than two out of five American bee colonies disappeared in the past year, and surprisingly the worst fatality was in the summer, according to a federal survey. Since April 2014, beekeepers have lost 42.1 percent of their colonies, the second-highest loss rate in nine years, according to an annual survey conducted by a beekeeping consortium, which includes the United States Department of Agriculture. United. "What we're seeing with this bee problem is just a strong signal that there are some very damaging things going on in our agroecosystems," said study co-author Keith Delaplane of the University of Georgia. "We just found out from bees, as they are so easy to count." But it is not as serious as it seems. After a colony dies, beekeepers then hand out survivors to create new ones, and the numbers rise again, said Delaplane and study co-author Dennis vanEngelsdorp of the University of Maryland.
IT'S AS IF THE FLU EPIDEMIC WERE IN AUGUST
What surprised entomologists is that it is the first time they have noticed that more bees die in the summer than in the winter, van Engelsdorp said. The survey found that some beekeepers lost 27.4 percent of their colonies in the summer, up from 19.8 percent the previous summer. Seeing massive colony losses in the summer is like seeing "a higher rate of flu deaths in the summer rather than the winter," van Engelsdorp said. "You don't expect colonies to die at this rate in the summer." Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine and Wisconsin saw more than 60 percent of their hives disappear since April 2014, according to the survey. Delaplane and van Engelsdorp said that a combination of mites, poor nutrition and pesticides are to blame for the bee deaths. The mortality among queen bees was also especially high.