The collapse of honey bee populations in the U.S. is the result of a number of factors, ranging from insects and diseases to pesticides, according to new study released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection agency.
The report says a parasitic mite is the single most destructive pest to bee populations, and is closely linked with what has come to be known as colony collapse disorder.
Bee keepers saw their hive populations drop between 28 and 33 percent over each winter from 2007 through 2011. In the last six years, they lost 10 million hives, worth around $2 billion dollars.
The report also lays out recommendations for future efforts to increase bee populations. The study says that more genetic diversity in the U.S. honey bee population is needed to improve disease resistance.
It also says more research is needed to determine if pesticides are to blame for colony collapse disorder. Earlier this week, the European Union instituted a 2 year ban on a class of pesticides called neonicatanoids, thought to be detrimental to bee populations.
The honey bee industry is essential to the pollination of many of the valley’s biggest crops including almonds and citrus.