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Jun 7, 2010

USDA Surveys Honey Bee Decline

Honey Bee
Photo courtesy of InsectIndentification.org
On 7 June 2010 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the start of a 13-state survey of honey bees.  The survey was conducted with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Pennsylvania State University (PSU).

The goal of the survey was to determine what is leading to the decline of honey bee colonies nationwide.  Special focus was being given to parasites and diseases.  As noted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, "[b]ee health is critical for the success of pollination-based agriculture, which produces about a third of our diet in the United States. ... There has been a disturbing drop in the number of U.S. bee colonies over the last few years while the demand for commercial bee pollination services continues to grow, and this survey will help us to better understand the factors threatening our honey bees so we can take effective action to protect them and the crops that they pollinate."

Funding was the project was appropriated under the 2008 Farm Bill.  The survey was conducted in Alabama, California, Georgia, Indiana, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

Analysis of all data will be posted on the APHIS website.  It will test current theories that the bee decline is due to:

  • the introduction of the small hive beetle, which can damage honey comb, stored honey and pollen
  • the introduction of deadly bee parasites such as the Varroa mite ( Varroa destructor), tracheal mite ( Acarapis woodi) and single-celled gut parasite Nosema ceranae
  • the introduction of new diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi
  • colony collapse disorder (CCD)
For more see: "USDA Begins National Survey of Honey Bee Pests and Diseases," USDA Press Release, 7 June 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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