Wisconsin beekeepers report high loss of bees over the winter

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Some Wisconsin beekeepers are reporting a high loss of bees this winter.

The Chippewa Falls-Eau Claire Beekeepers Association says it expects around 10-30 percent of its bee population to die off during the winter months.

The state Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection says some beekeepers have been dealing with as high as 50 percent of their hives dying over the winter.

Beekeepers says the cold weather combined with the varroa mite, a parasite that infests hives and kills of developing bees, has become a growing problem for beekeepers.

Association president Don Hauser said, “Varroa mites have become a really big issue in Wisconsin. Twenty years ago they weren't such a big issue but it seems to be growing. There are a number of treatments we attempt but not all of those treatments are fully effective.”

The association says it currently has around 90 members.

Hauser says beekeepers can bounce back from winter losses by bringing in new bees or splitting existing hives.

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