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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

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.

15 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.