New data from the Department of Agriculture shows U.S. honey bee numbers increased in the last year. USDA released its honey bee health survey this week, which found the number of commercial U.S. honey bee colonies rose three percent to 2.89 million as of April 1st, 2017 compared with a year earlier.
The number of hives lost to Colony Collapse Disorder was 84,430 in this year’s first quarter, down 27 percent from a year earlier. Still, more than two-fifths of beekeepers said mites were harming their hives, and with pesticides and other factors still stressing bees, the overall increase is largely the result of constant replenishment of losses. Colony Collapse, while not a leading cause of loss, has perplexed scientists for more than a decade.
May Berenbaum from the University of Illinois entomology department told Bloomberg News that as beekeepers have worked to improve hive conditions, the syndrome has waned as a concern. She says colony collapse disorder has been “more of a blip in the history of beekeeping,” adding that “it’s staggering that half of America’s bees have mites.” She claims that Colony Collapse Disorder has been vastly overshadowed by diseases, recognizable parasites and diagnosable physiological problems.