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The bees are back, baby!

Elizabeth King
February 07, 2018

Anyone who has read the newspaper in the last few years knows that we’re in the midst of a pretty scary honeybee crisis. Honeybees are a vital part of the ecosystem, and farmers rely heavily on bees to to pollinate food crops as part of the agricultural cycle. But unfortunately, they’ve been dying off in massive numbers, creating panic about how how long our food sources can last. But now, finally, there’s some good news about honeybees: they’re coming back. According to a new Bloomberg report, colony collapse disorder, the name for the mysterious phenomenon is killing bees, is down 27 percent since last year.

Bloomberg reports that the US honeybee population is up this year compared to last by 3 percent, thanks to the 27 percent decline in colony collapse disorder. The data comes from the US Department of Agriculture’s latest honeybee health survey released this week. Scientists have not yet been able to identify exactly what causes colony collapse, and thus have made limited progress in the prevention and treatment of the disorder. As such, it’s also unclear why fewer colonies are suddenly dying off from it.

However, colony collapse is not the only problem bees and their keepers are facing. Mites have also been a serious issue affecting beehives (and are a complicating factor for colony collapse disorder), and the USDA reports mites are still causing trouble. The USDA found that the most common cause of bee loss among beekeepers with five or more colonies was the varroa mite, a parasitic mite that goes after hives and causes a disease called varroosis, which is fatal to honeybees.

Overall, though, the news is good! Though mites continue to wreak some havoc and colony collapse disorder is not yet solved, there are more honeybees around now than this time last year. Researchers aren’t giving up on putting an end to the disorder, but at least for now it’s not killing quite so many bees.

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