“We’re on the brink. I don’t know that we’ve crossed that threshold yet, but we are certainly getting there very fast,” Browning said.
Browning noted his colony losses over the winter were double what they were in 2011, and he blames the higher death losses on last year’s drought, pesticides and the fact that the bees aren’t getting enough to eat. This last factor is due to a shift in crops grown by farmers, since in his words, “corn doesn’t provide any food for a honey bee.”
The news conference also provided officials of USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) an opportunity to release a comprehensive scientific report on the health of the nation’s honey bee population. The report noted there are many factors playing a role in honey bee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.
The report came out of a National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health that was held last October. The conference was convened to synthesize the current state of knowledge regarding the primary factors that scientists believe have the greatest impact on managed bee health.
“There is an important link between the health of American agriculture and the health of our honey bees for our country’s long term agricultural productivity,” said Kathleen Merrigan, Agriculture Deputy Secretary. “The forces impacting honey bee health are complex and USDA, our research partners, and key stakeholders will be engaged in addressing this challenge.” —- source Minnesota Farm Guide