By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Four years ago, Carroll County beekeeper Steve McDaniel saw something happening to his honeybees that others were reporting across the country.

“Two thirds of my bees died last year,” he says. “This is unprecedented.”

It’s also been happening to wild bumblebees like the rusty patched bumblebee.

“Certainly [it] was one of the most common bumblebees in the state before it declined and has now vanished,” says Sam Droege, of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

In the 1980s, there were 15 different species of bumblebees in Maryland.

Today, there are half that number, with a 90 percent drop in rusty patched bumblebees across 31 states, with none remaining in Maryland.

“It would be like saying, ‘Oh my gosh, blue jays have disappeared,'” Droege says.

the collapse of honeybee colonies may have multiple causes, including parasite, disease and “I think they’re getting into pesticides, both in people’s yards and agriculture,” says McDaniel.

Awareness of the pesticide threat may be cutting its use. McDaniel says his bees are doing better, but for bumblebees, “the driver is almost certainly this disease introduced from Europe,” according to Droege.

It first infected honeybees, and now bumblebees, and could affect us.

From apples to zucchini, it takes bees to pollinate the plants the grow into crops.

“I’m not sure there’s a lot of bright, rosy pictures at the end of this cycle,” Droege says.

Worldwide, bees are responsible for pollinating over $200 billion worth of crops each year.

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