Saturday, February 12, 2011

Royal Ontario Museum investigates sudden bee death

A file photo of a bumble bee feeding from a lavender flowerA Toronto museum is investigating the sudden death of thousands of bees in a glass-enclosed beehive exhibit.

Officials at the Royal Ontario Museum said 20,000 bees in a biodiversity exhibit had died within two days last week, though they had appeared healthy.

Scientists have ruled out staff error and starvation, but said poor ventilation, disease or a lack of worker bees could be to blame.

The museum plans to replace the colony in the spring.

"The queen stops laying eggs in early- to mid-October and starts laying again in late February," University of Guelph researcher Janine McGowan told the Toronto Star newspaper.

"If she didn't lay enough winter worker bee eggs to make sure the hive and honey is kept warm during the winter, that could have contributed to the die-off." ...

via BBC News - Royal Ontario Museum investigates sudden bee death.

the scene is a sad one. A once thriving beehive has turned into a tomb for 20,000 bees.




The bees were part of the biodiversity exhibit at the ROM. They were viewed through a special glass hive and staff say there was no sign that anything was wrong. The bees, they say, were perfectly healthy until late last week.

Then, within two days, they were all dead.

Janine McGowan, ROM's head beekeeper for the past several years, says she's been trying to come up with an answer.

"It's kind of like playing Sherlock Holmes, in a way, where you look for certain symptoms and you can diagnose different problems."

McGowan has ruled out colony collapse disorder, a mysterious affliction that's been gouging the honeybee populations around the world. In colony collapse disorder bees leave the hive and never come back. But the bees at the ROM just dropped dead.

McGowan's working theory is the deaths were caused by a lack of procreation.

"I believe that actually what happened is that their numbers were too low to survive the winter and they may have indeed either frozen or starved to death," she said. ...

- cbcnews

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