OSU Researchers Find One Culprit of Honeybee Deaths

It is almost the time of year for another large annual migration of honeybees to California. New studies are hoping to help prevent the undue deaths of the bees and their offspring while they are on their out of state visit.

Each winter, professional beekeepers from around the nation stack hive upon hive on trucks destined for the Golden State, where February coaxes forward the sweet-smelling, pink and white blossoms of the Central Valley’s almond trees.

If you weren’t aware, it is standard practice of professional beekeepers to stack their hives on trucks and take them all over the country to help pollinate various crops. The Golden State’s almond orchards are one of those destinations.

These Almond farmers rent as many as one and a half million honeybee colonies a year—at a cost of three hundred million dollars. And with out these million dollar bees there would be no almonds. Native bees aren’t up to the task of pollinating all of the trees as California crops account for eighty percent of the world’s almond crop.

So, what’s the issue? Many of the traveling bee’s larva died while in California and until now know one knew why. Whole colonies were dying and in 2014 some 5% of larva died.

Researchers found that a combination of common chemicals used in the almond orchards was at the center of the problem. Some combinations decreased survival rates by as much as sixty percent.