Honeybees Stung by Bad Winter, Pesticides

4-year run of dropping numbers just got worse
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Mar 24, 2010 4:05 AM CDT
Honeybee gets down to it.   (?wohack)
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(Newser) – Beleaguered honeybees are having a harder time than ever before after an especially harsh winter and heavy pesticides discovered in their hives and pollen. A massive die-off of the valuable creatures is topping off 4 years of troubling population declines. Scientists are trying to nail down the exact mechanism causing their decline, but suspect it's linked to the weather and toxins. The honeybee population and its pollinating function is vitally important to the food supply. One third of the human diet comes from plants that require honeybee pollination.

Honeybees have also fallen prey to illnesses, bacteria and parasites. In 2006 hordes of bees abandoned their hives to die inexplicably in a phenomenon scientists dubbed "colony collapse disorder." Now researchers are focusing on pesticides, including a recent one shown be toxic to honey bee larvae through nectar. Pesticide levels recently found in hives is "alarming," an expert told AP. One California beekeeper was recently stunned to find many of his hives abandoned and bees dead. "It got extremely depressing to see a third of my livestock gone," he said.

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