Beekeepers in Thunder Bay are worried about a drastic decline in the local honeybee population.

The head of the Thunder Bay Beekeepers Association said members may have lost as many as half of their colonies over the winter. Chris Carolan said he blames a combination of harsh weather, parasites, and harmful pesticides.

There is government compensation for lost hives — but only for people who have 10 or more, which means the majority of local hobbyists will be ineligible, he said.

"So maybe those beekeepers won't be beekeepers no more. So that's going to be a major concern. If we start losing big numbers of beekeepers and bees, what are we going to do?"

Carolan said he has lost 75 per cent of the 24 hives he owns and doesn't know what to do about the problems.

“I don't have an answer. It's just getting scarier and scarier."

More people should worry about the bee population, he said, because of their role in pollinating crops.

Beekeepers met Tuesday  night at the Kakabeka legion to take stock of their losses.