By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
When the federal government recently reported that some 34 percent of all beehives were lost over the last winter, it didn't provide any perspective. Was that bad, or average? So we went to the honeybee industry trade magazine, Bee Culture, for the 411. "Imagine if 34 percent of all the cows died over winter," says editor Kim Flottum, "or chickens, or pet dogs, or cats." That 34 percent was just the average tabulated by the Feds: Many beekeepers reported losses at over 40 percent. If there is any good news, it's this: Bad weather and starvation were to blame, not the killer Colony Collapse Disorder. But an Agriculture department bee expert says there is no good news: "The losses are unsustainable for the commercial beekeeper regardless of the cause."