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John Sackett's bees are prize-winners and he has the trophies to prove it.

A bulldozer rumbled atop a massive construction-rubble landfill nearby as Sam Droege and Thom Wilson went bee-hunting beneath high-voltage power lines slicing across northeastern Baltimore. A bulldozer rumbled atop a massive construction-rubble landfill nearby as Sam Droege and Thom Wilson went bee-hunting beneath high-voltage power lines slicing across northeastern Baltimore. Stephen Lafferty plans to cosponsor in the 2016 General Assembly session might curb the die-off.

Every few steps he took, Droege — a wildlife biologist with the U. Every few steps he took, Droege — a wildlife biologist with the U. Lafferty's bill would restrict the use of neonicotinoids, a type of insecticide that some bee advocates believe is contributing to Maryland's bee deaths."We don't have a silver bullet" to stop honeybee deaths, said Bonnie Raindrop, chair of the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association, which is headquartered at Oregon Ridge Nature Center, in Cockeysville.

"But we can at least control the sale of neonicotinoids, which are an important element."Last year, a bill that sought to label seeds and plant material treated with neonicotinoids and to restrict their sale and use, failed.

The reason was conflicting scientific testimony, said Lafferty, a Democrat who cosponsored the bill."It's still not 100 percent clear that neonicotinoids kill bees directly," Lafferty added.

"But it is clear that it impairs bee behavior and makes them more susceptible to disease."Although the wording of the revised bill hasn't been finalized, it would prohibit retailers, including big box stores and local garden centers, from selling neonicotinoid insecticide, Lafferty said.

He added that the bill would not restrict the insecticide's use among farmers.

"The bill would take [the insecticide] out of the hands of the average consumer," Lafferty said.

"Farmers have a license and professional applicators for neonicotinoids.

We were not prepared to rule out its use by professionals."Not everyone agrees, however, that the use of neonicotinoids is a primary reason for the sharp rise in Maryland's honeybee deaths, including officials of the Maryland Department of Agriculture and The Maryland Farm Bureau, who opposed last year's bill. Department of Agriculture reported that, in 2015, Maryland lost nearly 61 percent, on average, of its bee hives, versus 42 percent nationwide.

They say the science is far from conclusive on the relationship of the insecticide to bee deaths and that other factors, such as habitat loss, are contributing to the loss. The figure was the largest ever in Maryland and the fifth highest in the country last year. Summer bee die-offs in the state and nationwide outstripped winter losses for the... Summer bee die-offs in the state and nationwide outstripped winter losses for the... Wheeler)While Maryland's hive deaths have fluctuated over the last 10 years, the trend has been toward colony deaths, with a spike over the last three years, Raindrop said.

Maryland's beekeepers lost nearly 61 percent of their colonies on average in the past year, one of the highest declines in the nation, according to an annual survey released by the U. Maryland's beekeepers lost nearly 61 percent of their colonies on average in the past year, one of the highest declines in the nation, according to an annual survey released by the U. The 61 percent figure includes a recent, disturbing trend in summer losses, she added.

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  1. John Sackett's bees are prize-winners and he has the trophies to prove it.

  2. At the 2014 Maryland State Fair, his honey won first and second prizes in the water white and extra white-to-water categories, the preferred kinds for cooking.

  3. Under the Sackett's Blessed Hill Honey label, he sells his honey for per one-pound jar.

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