Virginia honey bee colonies expanding

Honey bee colonies for operations with five or more colonies in Virginia as of July 2017 totaled 8,000, a 23 percent increase over the 6.500 colonies at the start of 2016, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

Photo by Pam Owen

Surveys were accomplished by the Virginia Field Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

During 2016, honey bee colonies on April 1, July 1, and October 1 were 6,000, 8,000, and 7,000, respectively, but on April 1, 2017 had grown to 8,500. Honey bee colonies lost for operations with five or more colonies during the quarter of January-March 2017 were 1,400 colonies — or 18 percent lost — the highest honey bee colonies loss of the six quarters. The quarter of April-June 2016 showed the least amount of lost honey bee colonies at 230 colonies, or 4 percent.

Honey bee colonies added for operations with five or more colonies during the quarter of January-March 2017 were 1,900 colonies. The quarter of April-June 2017 added 3,100 colonies, the highest number of honey bee colonies added of the six quarters. The quarter of October-December 2016 added 230 colonies, the lowest number of additional honey bee colonies.

Varroa mites were the number one stressor for operations with five or more colonies during each of the quarters surveyed. The quarter of January-March 2017 showed Varroa mites at 21.4 percent. The quarter of July-September 2016 experienced the highest percentage of the six quarters at 39.1 percent. The quarter of April-June 2017 at 19.8 percent was the lowest percentage.

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