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German Beehives Hit by Mass Die-Off

Beekeepers are pointing the finger at a Bayer CropScience pesticide (clothianidin) marketed under the name Poncho, but government tests aren't conclusive. All up and down the Rhine river, farm fields usually buzzing with bees are quiet. Beginning late last week, helpless beekeepers could only watch as their hives were hit by an UNPRECEDENTED DIE-OFF. Many say one of Germany's biggest chemical companies is to blame. "It's an absolute bee emergency. Fifty to 60 percent of the bees have died on average, and some beekeepers have lost all their hives." The crisis hit its peak last weekend. As intensive agriculture becomes more and more common in Germany, the country's insects are beginning to suffer. The consequences could be dire—bees pollinate 80 percent of German crops, from apples to rapeseed. The latest die-off is hitting a bee population already battered by a particularly long, wet and cold winter. Infestations of bee parasites like the varroa mite have also taken a heavy toll on bees in the past few years.

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