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Maine Beekeepers Take Stock After Long Winter

Anson, Maine — Some Maine beekeepers worry that the long, harsh winter will harm spring honey production, but bees in some parts of the state have done surprisingly well.

Frank Drummond, a professor of insect ecology at the University of Maine, says some beekeepers have experienced considerable losses while others have done OK.

“It seems to be all over the place,” he told the Portland Press Herald. “I expect it will be one of those winters that wasn’t great for the bees but also wasn’t catastrophic.”

Asked to evaluate hives around Maine, state apiarist Tony Jadczak says he’s surprised at how good the bees look after a rough winter that saw beekeepers working much harder to keep hives alive.

Tony Bachelder, who keeps 614 hives in Buckfield, lost 15 this winter. Samantha Burns of Anson lost seven of her 12 beehives.

She attributes their demise to a combination of winter starvation and possible colony collapse disorder, which has killed a significant number of the nation’s commercial honeybees.

Mark Cooper in Windham lost about 15 of his 75 hives, slightly more than normal.

“I’m going to attribute a lot of it to the longer periods of cold weather,” he said.

Cooper said when beekeepers remove honey in the fall, they leave enough to feed the bees in the winter. But when it’s too cold, the bees don’t move, so even with honey on the frames, some never reach it.