Bees dying for unexplained reasons - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bees dying for unexplained reasons

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SOUTH AMANA (KWWL) - Beekeepers across the nation have been noticing a disturbing trend in recent years. Bees have been dying in large numbers, because of two reasons: a condition called "colony collapse disorder," and cold weather.

Matt Stewart, owner of Noble Bee Honey, has been keeping bees for two decades. But a few years ago, he noticed that his bees were dying off in alarming numbers.

"I was working with 80 colonies at one time. I got beat down to 16 that survived. Then, the next year I upped it again and got to 40 hives, and got beat down to 10," Stewart explained.

First mistaken for a bacterial disease called "foulbrood," Stewart eventually realized it was something different. Bee experts call it "colony collapse disorder," or CCD. Once it strikes, an affected hive simply disappears.

"One has gone from maybe five hundred bees to one queen in 48 hours," Stewart said. "Next thing you know, all the field force is gone, and all you get is a handfull of bees with the queen, and she's doing the best she can, but they can't take care of any of the eggs or larvae, and next thing you know, they're all gone."

They die shortly after leaving. For Midwest beekeepers, cold winters have been compounding this problem, killing even more. Recently, Stewart hasn't noticed CCD hitting his hives like it did a few years ago, but says it's still ravaging bee colonies in other parts of the U.S.

Stewart says this is a serious problem, but scientists are currently working on a way to solve it. With the help of federal funding, scientists at the University of Georgia are trying to create a kind of super bee, one that would be healthier and heartier than the normal ones.

It could take several years before they accomplish this. He just hopes it won't be too late for these insects, which are responsible for pollinating the plants that grow billions of dollars worth of food every year.

"I'd just hate to see them go out by the wayside, because that's going to completely change our food patterns."

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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