This Stings: Winter Death Rate for America’s Honeybees Jumps

WASHINGTON — America’s honeybees had another tough and deadly winter. A new federal survey shows the winter death rate for colonies jumped to 28 percent after dropping for a couple of years.

University of Maryland bee scientist and survey leader Dennis vanEnglesdorp said tiny mites — one of many problems killing bees — are getting worse. One quarter of our diet comes from plants pollinated by honeybees.

The winter death rate of 28 percent is about average for the past decade, but higher than the 17 percent that beekeepers call acceptable. Death rates had dropped for two consecutive winters.

The survey of beekeepers released Tuesday showed summer deaths rose, so the annual colony loss rate for the past year was 44 percent, which is also up from the previous two years.

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