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April 15, 2014 - ABJ Extra

 Winter Mortality of Dutch Bee Colonies Over Last Winter

Joint Press Release, Wageningen UR and Dutch
Association (NBV), 14 April 2014

Last winter, beekeepers generally lost fewer bee colonies than in the years before. The national mortality percentage has been established at 9.2%. This is the outcome of a telephone survey among beekeepers carried out by the Dutch Beekeepers Association (NBV) and Wageningen University & Research centre (UR) on Tuesday 8 April.

Winter mortality of bee colonies has been alarmingly high for years. In some winters one in four colonies did not survive. The survey after the winter of 2012-2013 showed that mortality had decreased to about 13%. “These results are encouraging but it is too early to consider this as a trend”, says Bram Cornelissen of Wageningen UR.

The survey was held among members of the NBV, with over 6000 members the largest beekeepers association in the Netherlands. Members of the General Dutch Beekeepers Association (ANI) were involved in this survey as well. Together these two associations represent about 90% of the beekeepers.

To establish the winter mortality percentage the telephone panel asked beekeepers how they - in autumn – had prepared the colonies for winter and how many of these colonies were still alive at the start of spring. A total of 210 randomly selected beekeepers from the membership files were asked for the mortality of the bee populations over the last winter, from which a winter mortality of 9.2% (confidence interval 95%: 7.2% – 11.7%) was calculated; 69% of the respondents indicated to have had no colony mortality.

At this moment it is still unknown why winter mortality over the last two years was lower than in the years before. Although the mild winter is suggested as possible explanation, this is not plausible because the severe winter of 2012-2013 also showed a relatively low mortality rate.

This year’s low winter mortality does not mean that the end of the mortality problems of bees is near. Bee mortality received a lot of attention over recent years. The beekeepers themselves are playing a major part with good preparation of bee colonies for winter. This may now be bearing fruit. Favorable environmental conditions, however, are equally important for a healthy bee population.


April 15, 2014 - ABJ Extra 

Sign-Up Begins Today for USDA Disaster Assistance

Programs Restored by Farm Bill

More than 2,000 Farm Service Agency Offices Across
the Country Stand Ready to Assist

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting today, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

"We implemented these programs in record time and kept our commitment to begin sign-up today," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "To ensure enrollment goes as smoothly as possible, dedicated staff in over 2,000 Farm Service Agency offices across the country are doing everything necessary to help producers that have suffered through two and a half difficult years with no assistance because these programs were awaiting Congressional action."

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Enrollment also begins today for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

Producers signing up for these programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment. Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, and more. Crop records may include purchase receipts for eligible trees, bushes, or vines, seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records, and documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove eligible trees, bushes, or vines.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss. Details are available from any local FSA office.

For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.