Rapid bee die-off claims tens of thousands

Posted at 1:36 PM, Jul 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-07 13:36:51-04

REHOBOTH, MA (WPRI/CNN) - Something killed tens of thousands of honey bees, and beekeepers are concerned.

"Honeybees, they are in decline," said Eric Pilotte is the president of the Bristol County Beekeepers Association. "(I was) immediately was sort of taken aback by the volume of death and how quickly it happened. It was within a 24-hour period."

Bees will fly two to three miles away from their hive to find nectar and pollen, so it’s possible some of the bees picked up a contaminant along the way and brought it back to the hive.

"In this case, they were able to bring back some of those contaminants, and I think that's what spread like wildfire through the hive," Pilotte said. 

He said this is just one of the many reasons why it's so important to follow the directions and regulations when spraying pesticides in a yard.

"He only had two hives, so it's completely devastating for him to basically lose, you know, all of his bees," Pilotte said. 

"Rehoboth actually has quite a few so a lot of those members, and beekeepers up there are quite upset about the situation," he said. "But they're also concerned like is this going happen to us next?"

The honey bee population is disappearing, some say at an alarming rate.  

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, in the U.S. alone, more than 25 percent of the managed honey bee population has disappeared since 1990.

Honey bees do more than make honey. They help produce some of our favorite foods, like apples, oranges, almonds, onions, cucumbers and more.

More than $15 billion a year in U.S. crops are pollinated by bees. U.S. honey bees also produce about $150 million in honey annually, but fewer bees means the economy takes a hit.

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