PDF _ RL33938 - Recent Honey Bee Colony Declines
28-May-2008; Renée Johnson; 19 p.

Update: Previous releases:
August 14, 2007
June 20, 2007
(/NLE/CRSreports/07Jun/RL33938.pdf)
March 31, 2007
Update:
In 2006, commercial migratory beekeepers along the East Coast of the United States began reporting sharp declines in their honey bee colonies. Because of the severity and unusual circumstances of these colony declines, scientists have named this phenomenon Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Current reports indicate that beekeepers in 35 states have been affected. Recent surveys indicate that about one-half of surveyed beekeepers have experienced “abnormal” or “severe” colony losses.

Honey bees are the most economically valuable pollinators of agricultural crops worldwide. Many scientists at universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) frequently assert that bee pollination is involved in about one-third of the U.S. diet, and contributes to the production of a wide range of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, forage crops, some field crops, and other specialty crops. The monetary value of honey bees as commercial pollinators in the United States is estimated at about $15 billion annually.

Abstract: In 2006, commercial migratory beekeepers along the East Coast of the United States began reporting sharp declines in their honey bee colonies. Because of the severity and unusual circumstances of these colony declines, scientists have named this phenomenon Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Current reports indicate that beekeepers in 35 states have been affected. Recent surveys indicate that about onehalf of surveyed beekeepers have experienced “abnormal” or “severe” colony losses.

Honey bees are the most economically valuable pollinators of agricultural crops worldwide. Many scientists at universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) frequently assert that bee pollination is involved in about one-third of the U.S. diet, and contributes to the production of a wide range of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, forage crops, some field crops, and other specialty crops. The monetary value of honey bees as commercial pollinators in the United States is estimated at about $15 billion annually.

Honey bee colony losses are not uncommon. However, current losses seem to differ from past situations in that colony losses are occurring mostly because bees are failing to return to the hive (which is largely uncharacteristic of bee behavior); bee colony losses have been rapid; colony losses are occurring in large numbers; and the reason(s) for these losses remains largely unknown. To date, the potential causes of CCD, as reported by the scientists who are researching this phenomenon, include but may not be limited to

* parasites, mites, and disease loads in the bees and brood;

* emergence of new or newly more virulent pathogens;

* poor nutrition among adult bees;

* lack of genetic diversity and lineage of bees;

* level of stress in adult bees (e.g., transportation and confinement of bees, overcrowding, or other environmental or biological stressors);

* chemical residue/contamination in the wax, food stores, and/or bees;

* a combination of these and/or other factors.

In March 2007, the House Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture held a hearing to review the recent honey bee colony declines. In June 2007, the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans of the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on the role of pollinators in ecosystem health, which also addressed concerns about bee colony declines. Policy options that were discussed at these subcommittee hearings focused on increasing federal funding for research and monitoring; providing technical support and assistance for beekeepers; expanding crop insurance to cover honey; providing a one-time payment for losses; improving existing USDA conservation programs to better prevent habitat loss and sustain wildlife populations; emphasizing the importance of pollinator diversity and sustaining wild and native pollinator species; developing or improving existing federal and state best management practices for beekeepers; improving regulatory enforcement to prevent misuse of agricultural chemicals; and renewing the marketing loan assistance program for honey producers.

 [read report]

Topics: Biodiversity, Information

1843 
Start Over