man holding bee hive
LESS LOSS: The first quarter of 2017 showed the lowest number of lost honeybee colonies.

Michigan honeybee colonies increase from year earlier

Nationally, colonies are down slightly, but colony collapse disorder is less prevalent.

Honeybee colonies for operations with five or more colonies in Michigan as of Jan. 1 totaled 29,000, according to Marlo Johnson, director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Great Lakes Regional Field Office. This is 16% above the 25,000 colonies on Jan. 1, 2016.

During 2016, honeybee colonies on April 1, July 1 and October 1 were 40,000, 108,000 and 101,000, respectively.

Honeybee colonies lost for operations in Michigan with five or more colonies during the first quarter was 5,000 colonies, or 8% lost. This quarter showed the lowest number of lost honeybee colonies. The third quarter of 2016 had a loss of 15,000 colonies, or 14%, the highest number of lost honeybee colonies of the five quarters. 

Honeybee colonies added for Michigan operations with five or more colonies during the first quarter of 2017 was 600 colonies. The second quarter of 2016 added 13,500 colonies, the highest number of honeybee colonies added of the five quarters. Fourth-quarter 2016, at 10, showed the fewest number of honeybee colonies added.  

Honeybee colonies renovated for operations with five or more colonies during first-quarter 2017 was 130. There were 80 colonies renovated during first-quarter 2016, the lowest number of colonies renovated during the five previous quarters. The highest number of honeybee colonies renovated for any quarter, at 9,500, occurred during third-quarter  2016.  Renovated  colonies  are  those  that  were  requeened  or  received  new  honey bees  through  nuc  or package. 

Varroa mites were the primary stressor for operations with five or more colonies during four of the past five quarters. Third-quarter 2016 showed the highest percentage of colonies affected by varroa mites at 64.1%, while first-quarter 2016 showed only 5.9% of colonies affected by varroa mites. 

Nationally, honeybee colonies for operations with five or more colonies in the United States on Jan. 1 totaled 2.62 million colonies, down slightly from Jan. 1, 2016. The number of colonies in the United States on April 1 was 2.89 million colonies. During 2016, honeybee colonies on Jan. 1, April 1, July 1 and Oct. 1 were 2.62 million, 2.80 million, 3.18 million and 3.03 million colonies, respectively.

Nationally, honeybee colonies lost due to colony collapse disorder on operations with five or more colonies was 84,400 from January through March 2017. This is a 27% decrease from the same quarter of 2016. Colonies lost due to CCD were reported to meet all of the following criteria: little to no buildup of dead bees in the hive or at the hive entrance; rapid loss of adult honeybee population despite the presence of queen, capped brood, and food reserves; absence or delayed robbing of the food reserves; and loss not attributable to varroa or nosema loads.

Source: USDA NASS

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