Monday, March 19, 2018
By Erik Anderson, KPBS
Warren Treisman was fascinated by the bees he kept in a backyard beehive of his Del Cerro home. The hive rested against a fence on the west side of his backyard, behind a Jacuzzi. Intrigued by his sister’s attempts to keep a hive in a much colder climate back east, Treisman set up his own colony and began harvesting honey.
”Usually, you just watch them and see that the activity is normal and everything’s OK,” Treisman said.
He grew accustomed to the activity the hive brought to his yard.
But a check of the hive in February revealed everything was not normal. He noticed dead bees on the ground. A lot of dead bees.
“It’s just devastating to see all those bees on the ground, dead or dying,” Treisman said.
Thousands of the bees littered the ground near the hive. Occasionally, a bee would stumble out of the hive and fall dying to the ground. Treisman doesn’t know what wiped out the colony because toxicology tests cost about $1,000 for a single bee, but he thinks it is unlikely that parasites or a disease are responsible.
The hive was wiped out quickly and that raised a red flag for University of California San Diego Biological Sciences Researcher James Nieh.
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“If it was something that occurred within 24 hours where suddenly you had hundreds or even thousands of bees dying. It does suggest there was a chemical basis for it,” Nieh said.