Around Town | Parasitic Mites, Lack of Land Could be to Blame for Decline in Honey Bees
Strawberries, Oranges, Almonds – you name it, bees probably pollinate it. But all of those amazing fruits, nuts and vegetables could disappear with the mysterious decline of the honey bee population.
In 2006, there was a major die-off of bees, now known as a Colony Collapse Disorder, which resulted in the near disappearance of adult worker bees.
According to the Bee Informed Partnership, a collaboration between the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, universities and research labs that aims to understand the honey bee decline, 44 percent of the nations bees died over the past year.
The partnership surveyed 5,756 beekeepers which managed 389,083 colonies from April 2015 to April 2016. Preliminary results showed the 44 percent loss was worse than the year before.
“There used to be 5.3 million hives in the U.S. There’s only 2.4 million hives in the U.S. and it takes 1.6 million to do the pollination (for almonds),” said Chip Vannoy, a beekeeper and owner of Bennett’s Honey Farm in Fillmore.
Researches from the US Department of Agriculture say the leading cause of colony losses is a parasitic mite, called the Varroa Mite, that compromises the bees immune system.
“No one can do anything about the specific circumstances that we have now. The biggest problems with the bees is we have a parasite and viruses that have transferred from other strains to bees on to our strain of bees. Because of those viruses their immune systems are compromised,” said Vannoy. “So when you incorporate insecticides (…) into the factor of immune systems that are already compromised the bees are dying. What we need, as an industry, is places for our bees to bring in healthy nutrition.”
Vannoy says that what beekeepers and honey bees really need to thrive is open land for them to forage on.
“What we need is places to keep our bees that are pesticide free,” he said.
(c) 2016 SCVTV