From the USDA:
A yearly survey of beekeepers, released today, shows fewer colony
losses occurred in the United States over the winter of 2013-2014 than
in recent years, but beekeepers say losses remain higher than the level
that they consider to be sustainable.
According to survey results, total
losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent
nationwide. That number is above the 18.9 percent level of loss that
beekeepers say is acceptable for their economic sustainability, but is a
marked improvement over the 30.5 percent loss reported for the winter
of 2012-2013, and over the eight-year average loss of 29.6 percent.
More than three-fourths of the world's flowering plants rely on
pollinators, such as bees, to reproduce, meaning pollinators help
produce one out of every three bites of food Americans eat.
"Pollinators, such as bees, birds and other insects are essential
partners for farmers and ranchers and help produce much of our food
supply. Healthy pollinator populations are critical to the continued
economic well-being of agricultural producers," said Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack. "While we're glad to see improvement this year,
losses are still too high and there is still much more work to be done
to stabilize bee populations."
There is no way to tell why the bees did better this year, according
to both Pettis and Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland
assistant professor who is the leader of the survey and director of the
Bee Informed Partnership. Although the survey, conducted by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland Bee Informed
Partnership shows improvement, losses remain above the level that
beekeepers consider to be economically sustainable.
This year, almost
two-thirds of the beekeepers responding reported losses greater than the
18.9 percent threshold.