“There are a lot of beekeepers who are in trouble” said David Mendes, president of the American Beekeeping Federation. “Under normal condition you have 10 percent winter losses … this year there are 30, 40 to 50 percent losses.”
For many years, beekeepers have been plagued by colony collapse disorder, in which formerly healthy bees abruptly vanish from their hives. The number of beehives in the United States dropped 32 percent in 2007, another 36 percent in 2008 and still another 29 percent in 2009.
A number of explanations for the phenomenon have been suggested, including diseases, parasites, malnutrition, but toxic chemicals are emerging as a major concern among beekeepers.