Planet Bee beekeeper Ed Nowek is growing more concerned about his dying bee population. (Brieanna Charlebois/Morning Star).

Vernon beekeeper concerned after spike of deaths in bee population

Beekeeper Ed Nowek suspects Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus is the reason his bees are dying.

Ed Nowek has been a beekeeper since 1969.

Recently, he became alarmed after noticing a spike in deaths of his bee population. He has sent a sample of bees to the Ministry of Agriculture for tests to determine what virus is affecting and killing his colonies. Results are expected soon but Nowek said he suspects it’s Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus.

IAPV is a widespread RNA virus of honey bees that has been linked with colony losses. The mysterious outbreak of dying honey bees sparked interests of U.S. scientists in 2007. What is now known as Colony Collapse Disorder attracted massive media attention and created widespread concern about honey bees.

“Colony Collapse Disorder was discovered about ten years ago in the U.S. and we’ve been seeing this more and more in Canada too,” said Nowek. “Our bees are just becoming more and more susceptible to some of these illnesses that didn’t use to affect them before.”

Related: Happy bees, happy garden

Related: Urban bees making a buzz

When Nowek started Planet Bee in 1997 in Armstrong, he says his goal was to educate the public on the importance of bees. Today, he owns and operates Planet Bee in Vernon. He said this dream has become a reality.

“We now have an educational program that we run here in the summer and we try to teach people about bees,” he added.

He said the vast increase of the interest of bees since the discovery of Colony Collapse Disorder has been a good opportunity to educate people on the dying bees.

Related: Honey bees are vital to the environment

“Experts say that at least a third of the food in grocery stores wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for bees pollinating those plants and flowers,” said Nowek. “With growing populations around the planet, we need to find ways for producing food to feed these people and bees are an integral part of it.”

Nowek expects to receive the report from the Ministry of Agriculture within the next couple weeks. Updates to come.

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