VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The loss of honeybee colonies over the winter in Virginia was the largest since the state began monitoring in 2000.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the losses over the 2017-2018 winter season were 59.5%, much greater than expected and far exceeding the average of 30% per year over the past decade.
The winter losses come after a decrease in colony losses for the summer of 2017 as compared to the 2016 summer season.
State staff found high levels of Varroa mites and nosema infections in wintering bees, both of which shorten the lifespan of worker bees and increase mortality rates.
In Virginia Beach, Brian Kause has found backyard beekeeping to be the perfect hobby to keep him busy in retirement. He lost all five of his hives over the winter and finds the statewide losses very concerning.
"From a big picture standpoint, the honeybees are supremely important to our environment and everything that we put on our dinner table," Krause told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo on Tuesday.
Virginia's 59.5% winter losses are much higher than the 30.7% loss in managed colonies reported nationwide.
According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, no one cause for the losses stands out.
The state is encouraging people to become new beekeepers and for existing beekeepers to add to their hives.
They are also encouraging homeowners and folks who live in apartments to plant pollinator gardens and window boxes. as
You can learn more about helping pollinators here.
The Virginia guide to beekeeping for adults and kids is available here.