The Honey Bees Colonies report, a critical tool researchers use to monitor honey bee population declines, has been suspended due to budget cuts from the US Department of Agriculture. A notice posted by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Survey states, "The decision to suspend data collection was not made lightly, but was necessary given available fiscal and program resources.”
According to a USDA spokesperson, who did not confirm when or if the important program would be resumed, the suspension is only "temporary.” The USDA survey is one of two national surveys that track honey bee loss and the only one overseen by the federal government.
Bee Informed Partnership, the other national survey, relies on grant funding, that includes funding from the USDA, to support its research.
The USDA survey is considered to be more accurate according to statistics since it has access to the list of all registered beekeepers in the US, but it has only been gathering data since 2015, shortly after the Obama administration enacted the program in 2014. The Trump administration has gone the other way, reversing programs that were put in place to preserve and improve our environment.
Bees help pollinate a third of the crops we eat, including grapes, almonds, avocados, and apples. The bee populations have been steadily declining since 2006 due to widespread pesticide use, parasites, habitat loss, and the climate crisis.
Last year, the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era rule banning the use of neonicotinoids, a chemical family that has been linked to one of the major culprits in colony collapse disorder. The Environmental Protection Agency has also granted "emergency" permissions to 18 states to spray an insecticide that has been considered "highly toxic" to bees.
Environmental advocates worry the loss of federal support will rapidly increase the speed at which we lose important pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.
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