Local beekeeper’s Russian accent

October 15, 2014

From: The Recorder

By TOM RELIHAN/Recorder Staff

DEERFIELD — It was the early 1990s and America’s honey bees were under attack.

Dan Conlon, owner of Warm Colors Apiary in Deerfield, watched as hive after hive of his fellow beekeeper’s stock succumbed to the Varroa destructor, a parasitic mite against which European bees are virtually defenseless.

The mites, which Conlon said are native to Asia and had probably entered the U.S. as stowaways on a shipment of bees, had launched a full-scale invasion that decimated hives across the country and drove many professional beekeepers into bankruptcy. In just three years, he said, the country lost over 4 million beehives.

“Before we even knew they existed, they had already spread everywhere. In about six months, it was over before anything could be done,” said Conlon. “They were so destructive that we dropped from 6 million hives to under 2 million in three years. Even today, we’ve only got about 2.4 million.”

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