Warm winter may have helped honeybees


MPR file photo Ann Arbor Miller

The moderate winter of 2011-12 likely is one reason more honeybees survived.

Nationwide, beekeepers have been losing about 30 percent of their bees each year, with some losing half of their bees each year. But U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say their latest survey of bee populations found that about 22 percent of bees died this winter. Beekeepers say a loss of about 13 percent is sustainable, so that is still a bigger hit than they would like to see.

“A warm winter means less stress on bee colonies and may help them be more resistant to pathogens, parasites and other problems,” said Jeff Pettis, co-leader of the USDA research on honeybees.

Widespread bee deaths are a perplexing problem for beekeepers and researchers.

I’ve reported in the past couple of years on the problem and efforts to find a solution.

The so called Colony Collapse has been happening for a number of years and is the subject of a lot of research. Some think pesticides are the cause, others believe the culprit is parasites or natural pathogens. Many scientists believe it’s a complicated mix of factors.

Researchers continue to look for a solution, but it sounds like many beekeepers caught a bit of a break over the past winter.

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