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Survey: honey bee colony losses in Va. continue

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia continues to see steep honey bee colony losses.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says a survey from October through April found that nearly 33 percent of managed honey bee colonies in the state died. The rate is higher than the national loss figure for the same period, but lower than the honey bee deaths recorded over the winter of 2012-13.

The losses that reporting period were 44.6 percent.

The survey was conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership. A state-by-state survey found that Virginia ranked 20th of the 47 reporting states for the highest percentage of honey bee colony loss over last winter.

Keith Tignor is the state apiarist at VDACS. He says the survey shows the state continues to lose bees at an alarming rate.


I live in Virginia and I lost zero hives this past winter. I always make sure my bees have sufficient amounts of honey and pollen to overwinter on, and I never feed them sugar. If they run out of the honey stores, I feed them raw honey bought from a fellow treatment-free beekeeper. Sugar feeding (pollen substitute, etc.) and the various chemicals that people put in their hive to treat the bees lead to a weakened hive and ultimately to its collapse. There are more bee-friendly and long-term sensible ways to treat for the varroa mite or any other sort of pest that might invade a colony, such as using small-cell foundation to raise smaller bees that are more in synch with nature (as they used to be before the beekeeping industry decided to supersize them, in late 1800s).

People do not want to eat cow meat packed with the bovine growth hormone or antibiotics, but they do eat the honey from the bees that are drugged into oblivion and fed sugar. So, next time you buy a jar of honey from a farmer’s market, or a farm stand, ask how that honey was produced. The label of “local” or “raw” means nothing unless I know that the bees that produced that honey were taken care of as described above as that is the least they deserve from us.

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