Starvation among reasons bees are dying

The surge in bee mortality rates that began in 2006 is worse this year than last and shows no sign of abating

Hundreds of dead bees were found in Hillsboro, days after 50,000 bees died in Wilsonville, June 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Hundreds of dead bees were found in Hillsboro, days after 50,000 bees died in Wilsonville, June 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture said thousands of dead bees in Clackamas County likely died of starvation, though the role of pesticides in their death is still up in the air.

Though bee experts know the bees are starving, they still don’t know exactly why.

The surge in bee mortality rates that began in 2006 is worse this year than last and shows no sign of abating, said Tim Wessels, the president of the Portland Urban Beekeepers.

“We are making some head way in some areas, but the losses continue to grow and the percentage is not good,” he told KOIN 6 News.

The bee losses during the winter were over 50%, he said, citing viruses that attack European honeybees. Those bees are not acclimated to our climate.

And pesticides, he said, may play a role.

“Those are very bad for all pollinators, so we’d like to see less of that especially when its used for ornamental purposes, cosmetic purposes. That’s ridiculous,” Wessels said.

But as a search for a cause goes on bees are dying by the thousands.

Earlier this month, beekeeper Austin Bennington lost 25,000 bees in one colony.
In Sandy, 30,000 dead bees piled up on a 60-acre sustainable farm.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture restricted the use of two pesticides in some bee deaths.

But as more bees die, more investigations go forth.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

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