The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is cutting its tracking of honeybees due to budget cuts.
“The decision to suspend data collection was not made lightly but was necessary given available fiscal and program resources,” the USDA said in a statement.
The department’s Honey Bee Colonies report started in 2015 and collects data on the number of honeybees per state, including those lost to colony collapse disorder which has been destroying honeybee populations. It’s reportedly at least the third bee-related data set to be suspended under the Trump administration. It’s also another step toward rolling back the Obama administration’s wide push to protect pollinators, including bees and butterflies. In 2019, the EPA lifted restriction on a bee-killing pesticide, allowing it to be sprayed across 16 million in the U.S.
The department’s latest bee-related suspension comes on the heels of the worst honeybee hive loss on record. Beekeepers reported a 40% loss of hives from April 2018 to April 2019. Bees help pollinate a third of all the crops Americans eat and a single colony can pollinate 300 million flowers in one day.
It’s unclear how much the USDA will be serving by cutting the report. According to the department, the suspension is “temporary” and it will release data already collected from January 2018 to April 2019.