Bee genocide: Nearly half of US honey hives collapsed in past 12 months

The US consumes $15 billion  worth of food pollinated by bees. © Fabrizio Bensch
The shocking, and seemingly irreversible, destruction of the US honeybee population took a huge hit in the past year, with 44 percent of all hives collapsing between April 2015 and April 2016.

This was the second worst year for colony losses since the "Beepocolypse" started a decade ago, according to The Bee Informed Partnership, the collaboration between the US Department of Agriculture, research labs, and universities that is tracking the alarming numbers.

Honeybee hives are generally inactive during the winter before being rejuvenated in the summer in a natural cycle, but this past season, colony collapses were three times higher than the "acceptable rate".

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The varroa mite, first introduced to the US via Florida in 1995, and pesticides are thought to be the main causes of the collapse, although shipping them in trucks across the country to pollinate monocropped farms is also thought to stress them out.

While the crisis is largely caused by humans, they also suffer since honeybees pollinate US$15 billion worth of food crops in the US, one third of the supply.

The little yellow and black insects are also vulnerable to lobbying from the pesticide industry, led by the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which downplayed the bee genocide last year, saying "the issue has been way overblown" anddescribing it as "hype."

"We’re not in a battle against nature," Angela Logomasini of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the Guardian. "It’s an agricultural management issue."

Unlike in the US, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) introduced a EU-wide ban on pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which are known to attack the nervous and immune systems of bees, leaving them open to disease.

While Logomasini argues that "the Europeans jumped the gun" on the matter, Friends of the Earth says ALEC is "trying to manufacture doubt and spin the science to downplay the role of pesticides."