Honeybee Colonies Hit 20 Year High

There is good news in the battle to stop honeybee losses.  A new report says the “Beepocalypse” is a little further in the distance thanks to a 20 year high in colonies.

A report from the USDA shows that since the alarm was sounded in 2006 over “colony collapse disorder” the number of colonies has mostly risen in the following years.

The USDA report shows that with the exception of 2008, every year since 2006 showed an increase in colonies and overall bee population.

The decline in bee population caused concern because bees are the main source of pollination for plants.  A decline in bees not only reduces the amount of honey available in the marketplace but also lowers the amount of other crops.

“It’s not the honey bees that are in danger of going extinct,” Kim Kaplan, a researcher with the USDA, told the Washington Post, “it is the beekeepers providing pollination services because of the growing economic and management pressures. The alternative is that pollination contracts per colony have to continue to climb to make it economically sustainable for beekeepers to stay in business and provide pollination to the country’s fruit, vegetable, nut and berry crops.”

Beekeepers have been instituting changes to improve the health and quality of the bee population including taking healthy hives and splitting them in two so that they create two healthy hives that can survive winter months.

Bird Flu Cases Hit 35 Countries

The World Organization for Animal Health says the bird flu outbreak that is currently killing millions of birds in the United States has impacted 35 countries around the world.

The major strain in the U.S. that has led to the deaths of 33 million birds since last December is H5N2.  The USDA is now admitting that the H5N8 strain of bird flu has also been found in the United States.

The OIE says that the H5N8 strain was discovered in Korea and China before moving to Japan.

“From there the strain probably spread with migratory wild birds to India, Europe, Canada and later the United States of America,” the OIE said in a statement.

The OIE has requested that the 180 member countries apply better biosecurity measures at farms, live bird markets and in trades.  They’ve also requested an increase in surveillance to try and stop outbreaks before they can infect more than one location.

The OIE added that while the main focus is on H5N2 and H5N8, the H5N1 virus that lead to a worldwide outbreak in 2004 and also infected humans is still out there.  The virus has most recently been found in Africa.

Deadly Pig Virus Expected To Surge After Summer

A deadly virus that has already decimated the U.S. pig population is expected to see a major surge after the summer months.

Veterinarians are warning that the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus will skyrocket during the fall with a potential 2.5 million pigs likely to die in the next 12 months. The USDA has been downplaying the virus, with USDA secretary Tom Vilsack claiming the U.S. is “on the other side” of the disease of a vaccine available to farmers.

However, vets on the ground and dealing with the problem say that the prevalence of the virus could overcome any immunity developed within a herd.  Even the maker of the vaccine, Harrisvaccines of Iowa, said they do not know the vaccine’s effectiveness when the weather begins to turn cold.

The virus has already killed 10 percent of the U.S. pig population and pork prices have risen to an all-time high.  An economist for the USDA said the records will continue to be set and it’s likely prices will jump at least another 50 cents a pound by the end of the year.

A further outbreak of PEDv would cause an even more significant increase.

Complicating the problem for American hog farmers is that China, Russia and Japan have restricted the import of pigs because of the viral outbreak.

Killer Pig Virus Decimating U.S. Animal Population

A virus fatal to pigs is running rampant in the U.S. pig population is causing massive deaths and driving up the prices of pork to record levels.

The PEDv virus has wiped out the entire piglet populations of farms throughout the country.  Agriculture officials in Oklahoma reported that one farm lost over 30,000 piglets from a PEDv outbreak.

Scientists say they have been unable to determine the origin of the outbreak.

The USDA reports that 7 million pigs nationwide have died from the virus.  The outbreak began in Ohio according to the USDA and is now reported in at least 30 states.  The nation’s hog herd has fallen to 63 million nationwide.

The virus is very virulent.  One researcher said that one tablespoon of virus infected manure would be enough to infect the entire U.S. pig population.