A mysterious problem that causes bee colonies to decline is once again taking its toll on California's beekeepers.
The problem known as colony collapse disorder is characterized by a sudden drop in a bee colony's population and the inexplicable absence of dead bees.
The disorder has no known cure and appears to be cyclical. After several mild years, it has resurfaced with a vengeance, said Eric Mussen, apiculturist with the University of California at Davis.
"It never went away, but this year a substantial number of beekeepers got walloped again," said Mussen, the state's leading bee expert. "And worse than they had been hit before."
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Although Mussen said it is too early to tell exactly how many bees have been lost, a bee industry official said losses in the state vary from 30 percent to 80 percent.
Roger Everett, a Tulare County beekeeper and president of the California State Beekeepers Association, lost 50 percent of his nearly 6,000 bee colonies.
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