Beekeepers across the United States lost 40.7% of their honey bee colonies from April 2018 to April 2019, according to preliminary results of the latest annual nationwide survey conducted by the University of Maryland-led nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership
. Honey bees pollinate $15 billion worth of food crops in the United States each year. The Bee Informed Partnership team said multiple factors are likely responsible for persistently high annual loss rates and this year’s jump in winter losses. They say a multi-pronged approach--research, extension services & education, and best management practices--is needed to combat the problem. The number one concern among beekeepers and a leading contributor to winter colony losses is varroa mites, lethal parasites that can readily spread from colony to colony. These mites have been decimating colonies for years, with institutions like the University of Maryland actively researching ways to combat them.