Study: Iowa ranks 3rd in nation for honeybee die-off rates


Nick Fetty | May 28, 2015

Iowa ranks third in the nation for the rate of honeybee dying off according to a report by researchers from 10 different institutions.

The report found 61.4 percent of honeybees in Iowa died between 2014 and 2015. Oklahoma led the nation with a 63.4 percent die-off rate while Illinois was in second at 62.4 percent. The research was a collaboration of the Bee Informed Partnership, the Apiary Inspectors of America, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The study received valid responses from 6,128 beekeepers who managed 398,247 colonies in October 2014. This accounts for just 14.5 percent of the country’s estimated 2.74 million managed honey bee colonies. Approximately two-thirds (67.2 percent) of respondents reported winter colony loss rates greater than the average rate of 18.7 percent.

“What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” study co-author Keith Delaplane (University of Georgia) said in an interview with The Guardian. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”

The results from this report are preliminary and the researchers expect these rates to fluctuate. A more detailed report is being prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed journal at a later date. Funding for the research was provided by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Earlier this year researchers at Iowa State University were awarded a three-year, $103,626 grant “to better understand how agricultural landscape diversity and approaches to pest management impact the health of native bees and other pollinators.”

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