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Almost half of the honey bee colonies in the US died last year

An annual bee survey found that America's honey bee hives have just reached the second-highest mortality rate on record. Beekeepers have lost almost half of their managed colonies.

The recent University of Maryland and Auburn University survey found that honey bee colony numbers in the United States "remained relatively stable," despite the loss of 1% of colonies in the year ended April 48. Honeybees are vital to the food supply, pollinating more than 100 of the crops we eat. It is clear that a combination of parasites, pesticides, hunger and climate change leads to large-scale deaths time and time again.

Last year's 48% annual loss is higher than the 39% loss in the previous year and the 12-year average of 39,6%, but not as high as the 50,8% mortality rate in 2020-2021, revealed the survey. Beekeepers told the surveying scientists that a 21% loss over the winter was acceptable, and more than three-fifths of the beekeepers surveyed said their losses were higher.

Almost 90 percent of fruit trees are pollinated by honey bees. Overall, around 80 percent of all flowering plants are pollinated by insects, 85 percent of them by honey bees. This means that without bees around a third of all food would be lost. Most fruits and vegetables would become luxuries without bees, many of which would soon be a thing of the past.

About 20.000 bee species populate the earth, of which almost 700 have been documented in Austria. 

Why are the bees dying? Pathogens, industrial agriculture with its use of pesticides and monocultures, habitat loss, air pollution and climate change – everyone should play a role here.

Photo / Video: Dmitry Grigoriev on Unsplash.

Written by Helmut Melzer

As a long-time journalist, I asked myself what would actually make sense from a journalistic point of view. You can see my answer here: Option. Showing alternatives in an idealistic way - for positive developments in our society.

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