An elderly beekeeper who has lost more than 300,000 bees is convinced that the insects were poisoned.
Eduard Aeby from Ueberstorf in the Canton of Fribourg, western Switzerland, told news website 20 Minuten: “I love my bees. I do care about them. What has happened really affects me.”
The 70-year-old hobby apiarist said he had discovered six colonies to be dead during a recent routine morning checkup.
Aeby – who started beekeeping as a young boy – explained: “Overall, I probably lost 360,000 bees. I had to dispose of three buckets of dead bees.”
The pensioner was confident that local animal safety inspectors would clarify the cause of the mass death. But testing was delayed as the canton’s experts asked him to get in touch with an agency in Bern.
Aeby eventually managed to get inspectors in Zurich to examine the matter. However, the length of time it took for the test to be carried out meant that, apart from small traces of insecticide, it was not possible to confirm what killed the insects.
The elderly beekeeper – who now has 25 colonies left – remains certain however that someone deliberately poisoned his colonies.
Speaking to 20 Minuten, he said: “It’s a disgrace. I cannot believe it.”
Aeby confirmed that the laboratory report had detected poisonous insecticides but at a very low level. He believes that the levels were probably originally much higher.
The Fribourgian pensioner assumes that the toxic substance had evaporated before the delayed tests were carried out.
More than 17,000 residents of Switzerland engage in beekeeping.
They manage around 165,000 honey-bee colonies, according to Swiss research group Agroscope.