We'll know more as the growing season goes on but the state's apple, cranberry and honey crop may be threatened by a lack of bees.
Every winter commercial bee keepers pack up their hives and move south to help pollinate crops there. They start returning to Wisconsin in May. But this year there won't be as many bees. The State Ag Department's Jane Larson says it just seems like the bees are disappearing.
Larson says a mysterious phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder is wiping out the migratory bee population. And if there aren't enough bees to pollinate enough Wisconsin crops, there could be a huge impact on a multi-million dollar industry.
Larson says, in 2005, apples were worth nineteen million dollars. Cranberries a hundred and twenty five million. Cherries brought in two and a half million. Honey production alone brings in 6-million.
Larson says there are all sorts of theories including one that came out in Britain recently blaming cell phones. A theory that radiation from phones and other portables are playing havoc with the bees' navigation system. There's another story that an Asian hornet is attacking honey bees in France.
It's a nationwide problem here and various agriculture detectives are working the case.
Larson says bee hives that are kept here in Wisconsin during the winter, usually by hobbyists., suffer from the usual "winter kill" but are not showing any signs of CCD.
Anyone can follow the affect of Colony Collapse Disorder through the growing season by going to www.pestbulletin.wi.gov . Beekeepers, commercial and hobbyists, are encouraged to have their hives inspected free of charge by the Agriculture Department. They are also encouraged to take part in a bee survey by going to www.beesurvey.com