The plight of the honeybees: 90% of hives facing issues with mites

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EAST CONCORD, N.Y. (WIVB) — Thousands of honeybees are in and out of hives right here, busy working after having a rough summer and now, having to prepare for the cold winter ahead.

“It’s up and down,” said Mike Baglio, a beekeepers who has had hives since he was 10-years-old. He says the rainy summer hurt the bees as they couldn’t go out and collect pollen during the storms. Now, they’re foraging in full force, making up for lost time as they hope to create enough honey by the winter.

“They need that nectar and pollen to make it through the winter,” said Baglio. “They’re in and out of that colony. They go out forage, get pollen, come in, unload, go back out.”

Around 80,000 bees are living in each of the colonies right now but that drops to about 20,000 during the winter as many die off.  Last year, Baglio lost 14 of his 30 colonies. The keeper says the cold weather isn’t the only battle the bees must fight to survive.

“It’s a combination of five or six things that affects the bees.”

And that include varroa mites, a parasite in the tick family which causes the bees to have many different issues including weakened wings.  According to the New York State Beekeeper tech team, 90% of hives tested across the state have these mites present.

“The mites get in the cell, they feed off the pupae of the bee and it weakens the immune system,” explains Baglio. “They’ve gotten some resistance to it but if you don’t treat for these mites, within two years your colony will pretty much die.”

While Baglio says he doesn’t know what each season will bring, every year he remains hopeful his hives remain healthy.

“It’s affecting the whole colony – not just the workers.  It’s affecting everything.”

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