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U.S. beekeepers lost a third of colonies last year

Staff Writer |
U.S. government figures reveal that beekeepers across the United States lost 33 percent of their honeybee colonies during the year spanning April 2016 to April 2017.

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Though preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey, published by the University of Maryland and showing beekeepers lost more than a third of colonies over the year, may appear startling, the figures actually represent an improvement from dire figures collected over the past two years.

Rates of both winter loss and summer loss - and consequently, total annual losses - improved compared with last year.

Figures from May 2016 reveal US beekeepers lost 40.5 percent of their honeybee colonies in the year to April, and keepers lost upwards of 40% of their colonies in the year to April 2015.

In fact, total annual losses between April 2016 and last month were the lowest since 2011-12, when the survey recorded less than 29 percent of colonies lost throughout the year.

Winter losses in this year’s study were the lowest recorded since the survey began in 2006-07.

The survey, which tracks losses from both commercial and small-scale beekeepers, is conducted each year by the nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America.

Winter loss rates recorded in the study decreased from 26.9 percent in the previous winter to 21.1 percent this past winter, while summer loss rates fell from 23.6 percent to 18.1 percent.

The 2016 and 2015 studies marked the first times in which summer loss rates rivalled and even surpassed winter losses..

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