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U.S. Bee Colonies on the Rise

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Pollinator week

A survey a couple of months ago by USDA showed an increase in the number of bee colonies in the U.S.  Dr. Becky Langer-Curry, manager of the Bayer Bee Care Program in North America said, “We learned a few months ago through a USDA survey of colonies that we are at 2.78 million colonies, that’s the highest number we’ve had in over 20 years.”

A recent report of honey bee colony losses from the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides welcome news for beekeepers in their efforts to improve the health of their colonies in the United States. An estimated 21.1% of colonies managed were lost over the 2016-2017 winter, representing an improvement of 5.8 percentage points compared to the previous winter and falling well below the 10-year average total winter loss rate of 28.4%. It’s the lowest winter loss rate since these surveys began.

“This is terrific news for everyone who cares about bee health,” says Dick Rogers, Principal Scientist and beekeeper for the Bayer Bee Care Program in North America. “As I reported last month, we are not out of the woods, but there is a reason for optimism, given the industry’s commitment to protect these vital pollinators.” Bayer continues to conduct research into the many factors affecting bee health and supports efforts to improve pollinator nutrition caused by a lack of forage through its Feed a Bee initiative. Bayer is also working closely with many partners to improve bee health, including Project Apis m. through its support of the Healthy Hives 2020 initiative.

Dr. Langer-Curry says they know there are two key factors that provide stress to bee colonies. “When we talk about honey bees there’s specifically the Varroa mite. This is the giant like cake that attaches to the bee and it injects viruses and bacteria while making that bee sick so we need beekeepers to monitor for Varroa mites, treating them and keeping them under control.  Langer-Curry added, “Secondly what affects all of the pollinators, not just the honeybees, is forage and habitat. We’ve lost a lot of our natural lands through urbanization and growing acres of row crops and so we can all do our part by providing forage and habitat for the pollinators.”

Bayer, in partnership with Bee Culture and Project Apis m., will celebrate National Pollinator Week (June 19–23) by hosting live webinars on Monday, June 19, Wednesday, June 21 and Friday, June 23 at 12 p.m. ET to showcase innovative research aimed at making an immediate impact on honey bee colony health. To register for free, click here.

Researchers working on projects funded through the Healthy Hives 2020 initiative, a $1 million research effort to improve the health of honey bee colonies in the U.S. by the end of 2020, will present their findings on a number of critical bee health issues during a webinar series open to anyone interested in bee health.

The webinars include:

  • “Tracking the Changing Deformed Wing Virus” – Monday, June 19 from 12 – 1 p.m. ET – where Stephen Martin, Ph.D., Professor, School of Environment & Life Sciences, University of Salford, Manchester, UK, will discuss how the viral landscape is changing, how these changes are affecting U.S. honey bees and, specifically, how the Varroa mite is providing a new viral transmission route for a previously rare and largely benign virus called Deformed Wing Virus (DWV).
  • “The Keys to Colony Success” – Wednesday, June 21 from 12 – 1 p.m. ET – where Julie Shapiro, Coalition Facilitator, Keystone Policy Center, Keystone, CO, and Mike Smith, Project Director, Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), West Lafayette, IN, will discuss the Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC) Bee Integrated Demonstration Project showcasing the best management practices (BMPs) that help to reduce honey bee colony loss through a coordinated and collaborative effort.
  • “Smarter Hives, Healthier Bees” – Friday, June 23 from 12 – 1 p.m. ET – where Joseph Cazier, Ph.D. and Ed Hassler, Ph.D. of the Center for Analytics Research and Education, Appalachian State University, and James Wilkes, Ph.D., Computer Science Department, Appalachian State University, and Founder, HiveTracks.com, will discuss advancements in the use of technology-assisted data collection at the honey bee colony level to assist beekeepers in making wise hive management decisions.

This National Pollinator Week webinar series is an extension of Bayer’s commitment to research, education, partnerships and stewardship to address the needs of honey bees. To register for free, click here.

For more information on Bayer’s bee health initiatives, please visit: https://beehealth.bayer.us.