(N.Morgan) The destruction of the US honeybee population has taken a massive hit in the past year, with over 44% of all hives collapsing between April 2015 and April 2016.
This has been the second catastrophic year for colony losses since the “Beepocolypse” which started a decade ago, according to The Bee Informed Partnership, the collaboration between the US Department of Agriculture, research labs, and universities that is tracking the frightening numbers.
Honeybee hives are typically inactive during the winter before being rejuvenated in the summer in the natural cycle, but this past season, colony collapses were three times greater than the “acceptable rate”.
The varroa mite, which was first introduced into the US via Florida in 1995, plus the pesticides being used are thought to be the main causes of the collapse, although shipping them in trucks across the country to pollinate monocropped farms is also thought to stress them out.
While the crisis is believed to be largely caused by humans, people also suffer due to the fact that honeybees pollinate US$15 billion worth of food crops in the US, one third of the supply.
The little yellow and black insects are also vulnerable to lobbying from the pesticide industry, led by the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which downplayed the bee genocide last year, stating “the issue has been way overblown” and describing it as “hype.“
“We’re not in a battle against nature,” Angela Logomasini of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the Guardian. “It’s an agricultural management issue.”
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) introduced a EU-wide ban on pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which are known to attack the nervous and immune systems of bees, leaving them open to disease.
Unfortunately, the US has not followed suit on banning these dangerous of pesticides.
While Logomasini argues that “the Europeans jumped the gun” on the matter, Friends of the Earth says ALEC is “trying to manufacture doubt and spin the science to downplay the role of pesticides.”
The video below gives a break down of the destruction of bee hives this last year in the US.