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Bees' deaths a mystery; Changing weather patterns a possibility

Photo: Pat O'Gorman of Northwoods Honey examines one of the 11 colonies he has throughout Powassan. All the bees in those colonies were dead when he and his wife, Betty, opened them three weeks ago. They are not sure what happened.

April 23, 2007
The bee die-off mystery is still unfolding in large parts of Ontario as apiarists are either finding their bees dead or gone. Some are just dead in the hives all huddled in a big cluster, with plenty of food. "It looked like they had a panic attack, as though they were all trying to leave at the same time." Some apiarists in the United States have found colonies left abandoned. Colonies hold about 80,000 to 100,000 bees. In an average year, apiarists will see a 10 to 20 per cent loss in colonies. In the Erie-Lincoln riding in the Niagara Region, 80 to 90 per cent of beekeepers have had substantial losses. A study by German researchers suggests cellphones and other high-tech communications devices may be part of the problem, causing honeybees to disappear en masse from their hives in parts of North America and Europe. But apiarists say there could be any number of reasons, including changing weather patterns and mites or other types of infestations. The phenomenon, known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), is playing havoc with the production of honey and other products from the hive - and threatening the growing of fruit and vegetable crops, which depend on bees for pollination. As much as 60 per cent of the world's food is pollinated by honey bees.
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