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Massive Death of Honeybee Colonies Gains Ground

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The massive honeybee die-off seen in many countries is gradually spreading to Estonia.

Thousands of honeybee colonies in the Märjamaa municipality in Rapla County collapsed in August for no apparent reason, ETV reported.

With a total of 18 hives and large investments made, beekeeper  Ilmar Pilov from Märjamaa was left empty handed after his bees mysteriously died off. Rein Viisimaa, a neighboring beekeeper, lost eight out of nine hives and doubts that the last one will survive the winter.

According to the beekeepers, poisonous pesticides are the only logical explanation. "If all the colonies are massively dying, and not just the ones owned by one beekeeper but everyone in the area, than we can only suspect poisonous substances," said Heiki Tunnel, another apiculturist coping with the loss of thousands of bees.

The problem is serious, not only on a local but global scale, said Arvi Raie, specialist on apiary diseases.

Jan-Roland Raukas, head of the plant products office at the Ministry of Agriculture, however, finds it unlikely that the death of bees was caused by pesticides.

The incidents took place in August, when not a lot of plants are in bloom, which means that the bees could not have been exposed to pesticides, said Raukas His explanation that the dieoffs might have been caused by a disease spreading through the colonies or even pest infestation.


Ingrid Teesalu

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