PEI

Winter kill of P.E.I. bees hits 40%

The varroa mite is being blamed for the death of 40 per cent of P.E.I. beekeepers' stock over the winter.

The varroa mite is being blamed for the death over the winter of 40 per cent of P.E.I. beekeepers' stock.

'One other loss like this will put me out of business.'—Beekeeper Stan Sandler

The mortality rate is one of the highest in the country, and double what Nova Scotia beekeepers have discovered.

Stan Sandler, the Island's biggest beekeeper, had 3,200 hives before the winter.

"I probably lost almost half of them, and then I was able to make up about 200 with some splitting," Sandler said.

"What this whole season will be for me is trying to get my numbers back up. You can divide hives when they get strong enough. I can take one [bad winter], because I've had a couple of good years, but one other loss like this will put me out of business."

The bee shortages are causing pollination problems for some Island farmers. Island blueberry growers are getting extra bees this year from Nova Scotia, but they say the bee scarcity is a growing concern.

The varroa mite is a parasite that spreads in bee colonies, where it causes disease.

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