COLUMBUS, Ohio - State agriculture officials say Ohio beekeepers lost 50 to 80 percent of their honeybees over the harsh winter, threatening the farming industry.
Honeybees have also faced increasing numbers of diseases, pests and pesticides that have thinned colonies in recent years, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio farmers rely on bees to pollinate more than 70 crops, including apples, strawberries and pumpkins. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that honeybees pollinate more than $14 billion in crops nationwide each year.
An expert at Ohio State University says "a combination of insecticides, mites and diseases" is taking a toll on the state's bee population.
Last year, Ohio had 4,390 registered beekeepers who tended an estimated 37,000 colonies at 7,199 apiaries. Since 2008, the number of beekeepers has increased by 27 percent.