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Connecticut Honeybee Decline Continues – Scientists Point to Likely Culprit

July 20, 2010

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - An annual survey of honeybees around the country has shown that, for the fourth year in a row, bee colonies have suffered a 30 percent loss, which means means millions and millions of bees are gone. While some of that has been attributed to "colony collapse disorder," scientists in Connecticut are pointing to a different culprit.

Entomologist Kimberly Stoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station says not a single case of the disorder has been documented in the state. She says parasites, pathogens and pesticides might be to blame.

"There are continuing problems with varroa mites, which are, in Connecticut, the most serious problem that we see."

She says there are different ways to manage the mites, which are an external parasite that preys on bees, but they remain a continuing challenge, and Stoner says it's critical that beekeepers stay on top of the problem.

"There's various ways to do it. There are some chemical ways to do it, and there are some non-chemical ways to do it."

Although other types of bees and other kinds of insects pollinate crops, Stoner says honeybees are in a category by themselves, because they can be managed by humans.

"So when crops grown on a large scale come into bloom in a big area, honeybees are the pollinator that we can then move into those areas to provide pollination service in a timely way."

Some of the honeybee losses can be recouped by dividing hives and importing bees, but the ongoing loss is a huge problem for agriculture.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT