VIENNA, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Austria is to see enormous losses to its bee population this year, with experts anticipating a high death rate, the Krone newspaper reported on Tuesday.
With spring weather now arriving and a better estimation of their numbers possible, Christian Boigenzahn of Bee Austria said the losses will be "significantly above the average."
In addition, he said the phenomenon will be seen across the entire European Union.
Austria had already seen a massive 30 percent drop in bee numbers following the 2014/2015 winter season.
President of the Austrian Beekeepers Association Johann Gruscher said early estimates in the western state of Vorarlberg following this past winter put the death rate at as high as 70 percent.
Hobby beekeeper Michael Mayer from Upper Austria said while bee deaths are to be expected each year, this time the situation is particularly drastic, with all of his bees "dead on the ground" following this past winter.
Boigenzahn said the notably cold 2016/2017 winter would not have had much effect, with bees able to withstand significant cold particularly with stable temperatures. Instead, mites are mostly responsible, particularly the varroa destructor variety.
In addition, the experts believe pesticides are also to blame, such as new insecticide and nematicide MOCAP-15G. They have already sent a letter of complaint to the minister of agriculture concerning its use.
They said to help tackle the problem, people should avoid the use of pesticides in their own gardens, as well as to leave a section of their lawn unmowed, to allow for flowers and the like to provide nourishment for the bees.