Beekeepers worry over declining hive populations
Updated Tue. Apr. 22 2008 1:01 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
The honey bee population around the world and in Canada is falling, with beekeepers warning the decline not only hurts their business but could also spell trouble for the food supply.
"The bees are leaving the hive and not returning," Burt Shavitz, a beekeeper and the founder of Burt's Bees, told CTV's Canada AM.
Bees are responsible for pollinating between 80 and 90 per cent of the fruit and vegetables grown in North America, and as a result a decline in their numbers spells trouble for the food supply, Shavitz said.
He said there are a "whole host of reasons" why the population is in decline, but as of yet there is no single solution to colony collapse disorder.
"There are mites that attack bees, the mites carry viruses, there are traditional diseases that bees get that have been treated with drugs and now the viruses are immune to drugs so something has to be found to cure that. Additionally, the importation of the most popular honey bees into the States has been banned for years," Shavitz said.
John Replogle, the CEO of North Carolina-based Burt's Bees, said the decline has been seen around the world, but is especially acute in the U.S. and Canada, where much of the bee population has simply disappeared.
"On Earth Day it's important to remember our environment is a system and it's under great stress," Replogle said.
Over the past winter, bee losses of 29 per cent -- almost double the norm -- have been reported in most parts of Canada, with even higher rates in some areas, Shavitz said.
One blueberry farmer in Coquitlam, B.C. has reported a 35 per cent loss in colonies -- a 25 per cent increase in losses from a year ago. Six years ago the farm was able to keep close to 100 per cent of its colonies