Some 36% of US beekeepers report they’ve lost bees to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) over the just-concluded northern winter. A survey by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Apiary Inspectors of America found beekeepers lost about 36,1% of their honeybee colonies, up about 13,5% from last winter.
The 36% reported they lost colonies in which all adult bees disappeared, a primary symptom of CCD. The survey covered 19% of the US’s 2,44 million colonies. Jeff Pettis, research leader of the ARS Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, said they are continuing to seek the cause of CCD, but so far, researchers only have samples that were taken after a CCD incident was reported, impeding research.
Without earlier samples, researchers can’t look for specific changes preceding the collapse. Pettis and researchers from universities and states are taking samples about every six weeks from cooperating migratory beekeepers who move their colonies to provide pollination.
Two of the apiaries being sampled suffered outbreaks of CCD in 2006, while some had a incident in late 2007 or early this year. The researchers hope the stored samples will give them an opportunity to see what changed and a bit more direction in terms of how to find the cause. – Alan Harman