At indoor and outdoor laboratories across the country, researchers use the latest science to find solutions to stresses that plague honeybees. The outcome of their work matters greatly not only to beekeepers, but to farmers whose crops depend on bees for pollination.
"Our industry is still not healthy, as winter and annual colony losses continue to be high," said beekeeper Gene Brandi of Los Banos, past-president of the American Beekeeping Federation.
Brandi said survey results released last month by the Bee Informed Partnership showed a 40 percent loss of managed colonies during the most recent 12-month survey period, and said that figure appeared low to him.
"I am aware of too many large commercial beekeepers who incurred winter losses greater than 50 percent," Brandi said.
Beekeeper Mike Tolmachoff of Madera, president of the California State Beekeepers Association, identified the bee parasite Varroa mite as "the single greatest threat" to maintaining bee health.
"I am accustomed to losing 30 to 40 percent of my managed colonies annually and dealing with the financial burden that accompanies these losses," Tolmachoff said. "It is vital that researchers continue their efforts in finding solutions."