Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

U.S. bee populations declined sharply over the past year, according to a survey of more than 6,000 beekeepers across the country. (Photo: Mark Nolan/flickr/cc)

'Years Ago, This Was Unheard Of': Dire Trend Persists With Huge Bee Die-Off

US beekeepers lost 40 percent of pollinator population in last year

Nadia Prupis

A nationwide survey of U.S. beekeepers released on Wednesday found that the pollinators have been hit by another massive population drop, with 42 percent of bee colonies nationwide dying in the last year—the second-largest annual recorded loss to date and a number that is too high to be sustainable, according to researchers.

The survey was conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, a consortium of universities and research laboratories, which took stock of more than 6,000 beekeepers across the country collectively managing more than 14 percent of the nation's bee colonies. The findings highlight a growing—and worrying—trend among pollinators, whose dwindling numbers could have long-term consequences for the U.S. food supply.

In one significant discovery, many of the farmers reported losses in the summer months—a rare occurrence on its own, but made stranger by the fact that the summer rates exceeded winter deaths for the first time.

"We traditionally thought of winter losses as a more important indicator of health, because surviving the cold winter months is a crucial test for any bee colony," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. "But we now know that summer loss rates are significant too. This is especially so for commercial beekeepers, who are now losing more colonies in the summertime compared to the winter. Years ago, this was unheard of."

Environmental groups noted the scientific connection between the findings and the expansive use of pesticides pushed by agrochemical corporations like Monsanto.

"These dire honey bee numbers add to the consistent pattern of unsustainable bee losses in recent years that threatens our food system. The science is clear—we must take action now to protect these essential pollinators from bee-toxic pesticides," said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, in response to the study.

Some pesticides, like neonicotinoids, or "neonics," have long been shown to be major contributors to the bee population decline. A pair of studies published last month found that neonics could be even more harmful to pollinators than previously thought, as bumblebee populations were found to be dwindling around fields where neonics were used to treat crops.

Dr. Emily Marquez, staff scientist at the Pesticide Action Network, said on Wednesday, "Pesticide corporations can't spin their way out of the threats to our food system.... In the decade since unprecedented bee die-offs began, honey bee decline has not slowed. The science is in: pesticide exposure plays a significant role in these declines. Our food and farming system can’t sustain this level of pollinator loss year after year."

"The continued decline of bee populations are the writing on the wall for EPA and the White House," Marquez continued. "Policymakers must take swift action to phase out the use of harmful bee-harming pesticides like neonicotinoids, restrict unnecessary and harmful practices like seed coatings, and invest in cutting-edge and green farming systems that ensure the continued prosperity of the nation's farmers."

Monsanto and other agrochemical companies "make billions from bee-killing pesticide products while masquerading as champions of bee health," Finck-Haynes said on Wednesday. "Are their profits more important than our food supply? Are they more important than the livelihoods of America's farmers? The Obama administration must act now to restrict neonicotinoid pesticides that threaten America’s bees, farmers and food security."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo