The decline in the US bee population, first observed in 2006, is continuing, a phenomenon that still baffles researchers and beekeepers.
Data from the US Department of Agriculture show a 29 percent drop in beehives in 2009, following a 36 percent decline in 2008 and a 32 percent fall in 2007.
This affects not only honey production but around 15 billion dollars worth of crops that depend on bees for pollination.
Scientists call the phenomenon “colony collapse disorder” that has led to the disappearance of millions of adult bees and beehives and occurred elsewhere in the world including in Europe.
Researchers have looked at viruses, parasites, insecticides, malnutrition and other environmental factors but have been unable to pinpoint a specific cause for the population decline.
He said the phenomenon probably results from a combination of factors but that the increased use of pesticides appears to be a major cause.
Research conducted in 23 US states and Canada and published in the Public Library of Science journal found 121 different pesticides in 887 samples of bees, wax, pollen and other elements of hives, lending credence to the notion of pesticides as a key problem.