Mystery solved in death of 25,000 downtown St. Paul bees

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A few concerned citizens in St. Paul noticed "drifts" of dead honeybees in St. Paul early this week, prompting a round of questions about what had killed the swarms camped out in two downtown oak trees, the Star Tribune reports.

A number of officials, including state Agriculture Department experts, were initially puzzled, the Star Tribune reported. A city spokesman who spoke to officials in three agencies told the Star Tribune he could not track down whether a government entity had killed the bees.

But the mystery was solved Wednesday, the Star Tribune reports in a follow-up story. Police got two calls about the bees – estimated to number about 25,000 – on Sunday night. Police then called the fire department, and firefighters killed the bees with a foam at about midnight, the Star Tribune reports.

A police spokesman said it's a shame, but the bees were a public safety issue.

Headlines have buzzed in the last few years about the decline of honeybee populations and what might be causing it. One Minnesota beekeeper has a theory and a video that he says supports it.

Farmers and policymakers are deeply concerned about bee die-off, and consumers should be, too. Fewer bees translates to smaller harvests and increased food prices, officials say. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in a May report on the bee decline noted: "An estimated one-third of all food and beverages are made possible by pollination, mainly by honey bees. In the United States, pollination contributes to crop production worth $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually."

Last month, about 50,000 bees were inadvertently killed when 55 trees were sprayed for aphids in a Target store parking lot in Oregon.

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