Harsh Winter Wipes Out Honeybees In Iowa

Honeybees in Iowa did not survive the harsh winter that seems to be pushing its cold temperatures and snow into the spring. The weather conditions in the state prompted a “drastic” decrease in the honeybee population. The loss of record numbers of the little pollinators in recent years due to colony collapse disorder have beekeepers and environmentalists extremely concerned. Honeybees are responsible for directly pollinating about 70 percent of the food supply.

“It’s devastating,” said Iowa beekeeper Mike Swett, of Squaw Creek Honey. “When I came out and saw my loss, I mean you literally just cry.”

The vast majority of the honeybees in Swett’s 25 hives have died.

“I have dead bees, and I still have combed honey here and the bees are just basically starved to death. Last year I probably lost 8 to 10 percent of my bees. This year, I’m seeing 60 percent loss,” the Iowa beekeeper added.

Beekeepers from across America have lamented the decline of their colonies for several years. A recent Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report in the United Kingdom shed more than a little light on the problem, but so far, United States agricultural experts have failed to take corrective steps.

A class of insecticide chemicals routinely used in America are killing off the bee population, according to the UK report. The chemical culprits are typically applied to rapeseed (canola), corn, sugar beets, and a handful of other crops around the world. Related data released in the European Union confirms the threat to healthy bee colonies.

Neonicotinoids reportedly possess compounds which adversely impact the central nervous systems of bees. The interference prompts a confused state during the pollination process. The ability to navigate back home to the hive is reportedly forgotten and is believed to result in the mass starvation of bee colonies. Neonicotinoids, also known as neonics, have been used since the early days of the last century.

The European Food Safety Authority feels the long-term usage has caused a worldwide Colony Collapse Disorder. A two-year ban on the insecticides in Europe was recently struck down. German and British officials were accused of caving to the powerful AG lobby when the pesticides bill was defeated. A total of fifteen European Union countries voted in support of the bee insecticide ban, but that was not enough to garner a “qualified majority” under commission rules.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture feels that extreme weather conditions played a significant role in the deaths of “weaker, sicker, or malnourished” honeybee colonies. Andrew Joseph, a bee researcher for the agency estimates the loss at 70 percent or more for beekeepers in the state.

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