The 2017-2018 winter season resulted in a higher rate of bee loss than any other year.
VIRGINIA — Bees are dying at an alarming rate in Virginia, more so than expected.
Millions of bees are dying off, with alarming consequences for our environment and our food supply. We rely on bees to pollinate everything from almonds to strawberries to the alfalfa used to feed dairy cows. What happens if the bees disappear? It’s simple: No bees, no food.
In Virginia, the Department of Agriculture found that there was a loss of nearly 60 percent of honeybees over the 2017-2018 winter season.
“The winter losses were 59.5 percent,” said Keith Tignor, State Apiarist.
This is the highest rate since 2000, which was when the state began monitoring bee winter losses.
VDACS found high levels of mites and infections in the worker bees, which shorten their lifespan. But this isn’t the only factor affecting the bees. While there is no one cause that stands out as the perpetrators, it ends up being a combination of environmental conditions, loss of habitat, pests and disease, and other factors.
The survey found that even Maryland honeybees were also experiencing losses, 33.6 percent of bees over the winter died. There was also a 9.5 percent increase of bee loss nationally this winter.
So, what can you do to help? The VDACS is trying to fight back on the losses by encouraging people to plant pollinator gardens and window boxes. This will allow bees to pollinate and hopefully grow. These small efforts may be able to help the bee population make a comeback.
We rely on bees to pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90% of most of the world’s food. Imagine no almonds, fewer apples and strawberries, less alfalfa to feed dairy cows, and the list goes on.