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Honey Bee Death Rates Lower Than Expected

honeybeeA European Union survey found death rates of honeybees lower than feared, countering concerns about the collapse the crop-pollinating insect colonies caused by pests and disease.

The study of 32,000 bee colonies across 17 EU member states from late 2012 until summer 2013 found winter mortality rates ranged from 3.5 percent to 33.6 percent, Reuters reports.

The winter of 2012-13 was particularly cold and the highest mortality rates were in northern countries with harsher climates.

During the beekeeping season, when the insects are active, mortality rates were between 0.3 percent and 13.6 percent. By comparison, US beekeepers lost nearly a third of their colonies last winter as part of a largely unexplained decline in the population that could affect food supplies.

The study found that overall prevalence of the bee diseases American foulbrood was low in all the monitored EU member states, ranging from zero to 11.6 percent.

European foulbrood was even lower. Only five member states observed positive cases and the clinical prevalence exceeded 2 percent in only one member state.

Varroosis, a disease caused by a mite, was however observed in nearly all the monitored member states.

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