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Beekeepers losing bees, income

By Mary Jo Ola,
Published On: May 15 2013 02:54:45 PM CDT

Wisconsin beekeepers are looking for answers after losing thousands of bees and even more money.

Dean Lapp, a beekeeper in Reeseville, lost about half of his 1,000 honeybee colonies this year alone. Each colony can hold up to around 20,000 honeybees.

"None of us are bulletproof with this. You can have five colonies and lose all five. You can have a thousand colonies and lose all 1,000," said Lapp.

He estimates the total loss is between $190,000 and $200,000.

Some loss is expected each year but Lapp said not like this. The idea of colony collapse disorder has been thrown around but extension entomologist Phil Pelliterri at the UW-Madison said there's more.

"If you take a step back and look at the Wisconsin winter we don't think this was collapse disorder. It's various other factors but bottom line it was not a good winter for bees," said Pelliterri.

He added mites, mites' developing resistance to medicines, viruses and winter weather are all important factors to consider; and it could take years to find out what is killing the honeybees.

Lapp said he believes pesticides the bees pick up are to blame. He also said the honeybee problem is affecting other farmers who use them to pollinate plants, including almonds, cucumbers and cranberries.

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