Purdue: Honeybee Die-off Less Severe this Year than Last

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – A Purdue University honeybee specialist says Indiana's bee populations weathered the state's recent cold winter in much better shape than they did a year ago.

Purdue entomologist Greg Hunt says that after last year's brutally cold and snowy winter, Indiana's beekeepers discovered that about two-thirds of their honeybees had perished.

But Hunt says his research and discussions with Hoosier beekeepers suggests about 30 percent of Indiana's honeybees died over the winter. He says that's “much better'' than last year, but Indiana's bees still face several significant threats. 

Those include insecticides used on corn and soybean seeds that are tied to bee deaths, and parasitic mites that transmit viruses and destroy an entire colony.

Honeybees are essential to agriculture because they pollinate food plants such as fruits, nuts and vegetables.