USDA has begun a 13-state survey of honey bee pests and diseases conducted cooperatively by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA's Agricultural Research Service and Pennsylvania State University. The survey will help USDA scientists determine the prevalence of parasites and disease-causing microorganisms that may be contributing to the decline of honey bee colonies nationwide.
The voluntary survey will take place in Alabama, California, Georgia, Indiana, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Survey kits have been mailed to state apiary specialists, who will collect samples of bees and debris from the apiaries in their states. Scientists will test the samples for specific pests and pathogens.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says there has been a disturbing drop in the number of U.S. bee colonies over the last few years while the demand for commercial bee pollination services continues to grow. The Secretary says this survey will help us to better understand the factors threatening our honey bees so we can take effective action to protect them and the crops that they pollinate.