CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Extension Service plans to survey Oregon beekeepers to find out what diseases and pests are affecting their honeybees amid rising concern that they may be hit by a mysterious phenomenon that has caused losses in colonies throughout the country.
The state's farmers are concerned that a shortage of honeybees could make it difficult for their crops to get pollinated.
The survey, created by Extension entomologist Jim Young, will be sent out in mid-April with the honeybee hive registrations that the Oregon Department of Agriculture mails to beekeepers every year. The survey, which is voluntary and anonymous, is also online at http://www.science.oregonstate.edu/bpp/insect_clinic/bees.htm.
"We were getting calls from the general public and reporters about colony collapse disorder and diseases so I proposed a survey," Young said. "People were worried about what's going to pollinate their trees if the honey bees are dead."
Colony collapse disorder describes a condition in which adult honeybees disappear from a hive, either entirely or in large numbers. The phenomenon came to light in late 2006, when beekeepers on the East Coast began to see their honeybee colonies dwindle. A cause has not been determined, but one possible suspect is a virus. The disorder has since spread to other states and may now be present in the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon.
The survey Young prepared asks beekeepers questions that include what counties their bees are in, what states their bees travel to, how many hives they think they lost to colony collapse disorder, and how many hives have been afflicted with various diseases and pests.
There's no deadline for returning the surveys, but Young hopes to receive a rush of them in the next several weeks because the hive registrations are due May 1, and beekeepers will probably fill out the surveys at the same time, he said.
Young oversees OSU Extension's Honey Bee Diagnostic Services, which was created this year in response to concern from farmers, apiculturists and the general public. The lab diagnoses non-viral diseases and pests, including American and European Foulbrood, Chalkbrood, Stonebrood and Tracheal mites.