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Study shows bee colony loss worse in Delaware

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A new survey of beehive colonies not only reveals major losses on a national level, it also shows that Delaware has one of the highest rates of colony loss in the country.

According to the research conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, along with the Apiary Inspectors of America and the USDA, over 40 percent of American honeybee colonies were lost since April 2014. In Delaware, the loss in the past year was even worse, at 61 percent. That’s about 3 colonies down for every 5.

The study points to factors including pesticide use, poor nutrition and varroa mites, which infect bees with a paralyzing virus, are major drivers of bee deaths. Delaware was one of eight states across the country that suffered colony loss at over 60 percent. The highest was Oklahoma at 63.4 percent.

Researchers from the study have noted this is the first time they’ve seen a higher rate of colony loss in the summer than in the winter, in year to year comparison. 

The contribution honey bees make to U.S. agriculture is valued at $14 billion according to the American Beekeeping Federation. In Delaware, honeybee colonies supply the majority of pollination needs for cucurbit crops, which include squash, watermelon and cucumbers. According to the the Delaware Department of Agriculture, cucurbit crops bring in up to $21 million in revenue annually to the state.