The honeybee population declined 44 percent last year, according to a new survey from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This is the second consecutive year of steep honeybee losses, many of which occurred not only in the winter, but also in the summer.
It could wreak havoc on the nation’s food system, food safety advocates say.
“Bees, beekeepers and anyone who eats food are all impacted by severe declines in honey bee colonies – these consecutively high losses year after year are catastrophic to our food system,” said Larissa Walker, pollinator program director at the Center for Food Safety.
The massive honeybee losses have critics calling for stronger regulations against pesticides, which they believe are responsible for the deaths.
“These honey bee losses reinforce what sciences continues to tell us; we must take immediate action to restrict pesticides contributing to bee declines,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes of Friends of the Earth.
“The longer we wait, the worse the situation becomes,” she added. "If we do not suspend neonicotinoid pesticides immediately, we risk losing our beekeepers and harming important ecosystem functions upon which our food supply depends.”
More than 5,700 beekeepers participated in the survey, which was conducted by the USDA and the Apiary Inspectors of America, working together with the Bee Informed Partnership.
This story was updated at 12:09 p.m. on May 11, 2016.