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The UK Reports The Worst Winter Honeybee Losses On Record

HoneybeeWhere have all the honeybees gone?

In the United Kingdom, honeybee losses this past winter were the worst on record, the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) said in a statement on Thursday.

Over the 2012-2013 winter season, 34 honeybee colonies of every 100 were lost on average — more than double that of the previous year.

Widespread die-offs are being blamed largely on bad weather and a late spring, BBKA said in their report. 

An exceptionally rainy season — the summer of 2012 was the wettest the UK had seen in 100 years — prevented honeybees from going out and collecting nectar and pollen from flowers, needed to nourish bees, produce honey, and to pollinate other crops. Poor nutrition, in turn, makes honeybees more susceptible to disease and other stressors. A scarcity of pollen and nectar even when honeybees were able to leave their hives served as an additional blow.

Poor weather also interfered with the mating of the virgin queen bees, the largest bee in the hive and the only female to mate, which lead many colonies to die-out. 

Honeybees on this side of the pond were also hit hard over the winter, with some beekeepers in northern Illinois losing up to 80 per cent of their hives

The challenges faced by honeybees are many. Parasites and disease, poor nutrition, and pesticides all impact the health of these pollinators. 

Major honeybee losses affect everyone. Honeybees are critical to one-third of all food and beverages that require pollination. 

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