Finally, a suspect in bee decline
Mites in carcasses cited by University of Guelph entomologist
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In a report to be published in the journal Apidologie, Guzman identifies what killed them: the varroa mite, a crab-like parasite the size of a pen dot.
Abetted by poor bee populations and low food reserves for the winter, Guzman says, the bee bloodsucker is without question why colonies in Ontario, at least, are dwindling so fast.
Ed Nowek of Planet Bee apiaries in Vernon, B.C., ventures the same conclusion for his side of the country. "I've never seen it so hard to keep bees alive than in the past four to five years," he says of his 30-year run in the business."
Though the mite isn't new, beekeepers say what's most disconcerting is the probable cause behind its sudden explosion: a built-up resistance to the chemicals used to kill them. For the same reasons some hospital patients succumb to antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, varroa has become the superbug of Canada's bees.