US honeybee crisis improves from ‘horrible to bad’

WASHINGTON — There’s a glimmer of hope for America’s ailing honeybees as winter losses were the lowest in more than a decade, according to a US survey of beekeepers released Thursday.

Beekeepers lost 21 percent of their colonies over last winter, the annual Bee Informed Partnership survey found. That’s the lowest winter loss level since the survey started in 2006 and an improvement from nearly 27 percent the winter before.

The US government has set a goal of keeping losses under 15 percent in the winter.

“It’s good news in that the numbers are down, but it’s certainly not a good picture,” said survey director Dennis vanEngelsdorp. “It’s gone from horrible to bad.”

Reduction in varroa mites, a lethal parasite, is likely the main cause of the improvement, said vanEnglesdorp, a University of Maryland entomologist. He credited the reduction in the parasite to…

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