U.S. honeybee population continues to decline, as a combination of disease, parasites, pesticides and other environmental stressors, increase the pace of the phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.
The number of commercial U.S. honeybee colonies declined 8.1% in 2015, according to the study conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America and with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Commercial Honey bee operations with five or more colonies in the United States as of January 1, 2016 totaled 2.59 million. There were 2.82 million colonies on January 1, 2015.
“The high rate of loss over the entire year means that beekeepers are working overtime to constantly replace their losses,” Jeffery Pettis, a senior entomologist at the USDA and a co-coordinator of the survey, said in a statement on the Bee Informed Partnership website.
“These losses cost the beekeeper time and money,” Pettis added. “More importantly, the industry needs these bees to meet the growing demand for pollination services. We urgently need solutions to slow the rate of both winter and summer colony losses.”
Honeybees pollinate about $15 billion worth of crops annually, according to the USDA.