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Bee deaths stir up renewed buzz

By Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News
This past winter has been exceptionally rough for honeybees — and although it's too early to say exactly why, the usual suspects range from pesticides that appear to cause memory loss to pests that got an exceptionally early start last spring.

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Steve Corniffe works on collecting honey produced by the bees at the J & P Apiary and Gentzel's Bees, Honey and Pollination Company on April 10, 2013 in Homestead, Fla.

Friday marked the start of an annual survey that asks beekeepers to report how many bees they lost over the winter, conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, the Apiary Inspectors of America and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The advance word is that the results will be brutal.  The New York Times, for example, quoted beekeepers as saying the losses reached levels of 40 to 50 percent — which would be double the average reported last year.

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John Gentzel collects honey in Homestead, Fla. Honey bee owners along with scientists continue to try to figure out what is causing bees to succumb to the colony collapse disorder which has devastated apiaries around the country.

One beekeeper in Montana was quoted as saying that his bees seemed healthy last spring, but in September, "they started to fall on their face, to die like crazy." Read full story.

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Honey bees are seen at the J & P Apiary and Gentzel's Bees, Honey and Pollination Company in Homestead, Fla. Reports indicate that the disorder which kills off thousands of bees at a time has resulted in the loss of some 30 percent of honey bee populations among beekeepers since 2007.

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