Jul 6, 2019

USDA suspends honeybee colony research

In this image, two gloved hands take a honeycomb out of a man-made hive.

Beekeeper inspects a honeycomb. Photo: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

USDA has temporarily suspended data collection on the Obama-era Honey Bee Colonies report, the only federally overseen national survey that tracks honeybee losses, CNN reports.

Why it matters: "Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of animal pollinators like bees," the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service reports. Last winter's honeybee colony loss was the highest in 13 years, according to WashPost.

Details: USDA reportedly suspended data collection due to cost cuts and budget constraints. Widespread honeybee losses have been attributed to increased uses of fungicide and neonicotinoid pesticides, as well as viruses carried by varroa mites. Longtime beekeepers say bee life spans have been cut in half.

  • In 2018, the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era rule barring the use of neonicotinoids, per CNN.

Go deeper: A commonly used pesticide can harm bees

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