What's bugging bees? 'Trying to figure out what the root cause'

EUGENE, Ore. - There's lots of buzz about bees, colony collapse and how the two could affect a billion-dollar Oregon industry: agriculture.

In other words: the food you eat.

Beekeepers say the more the bee population grows, the more honey bees need to produce - and it's this stress of feeding millions, mixed with other factors, that's killing honeybees by the thousands.

"People have been investigating it," said Katherine Hunt with the Lane County Beekeepers Association. "Researchers have been trying to figure out what the root cause is, and they're still working on it."

Alan Tusanski of Glory Bee Foods said his business has seen losses.

"I met with one beekeeper in the Lebanon area who's been selling to us since 1982," he said, "and a few years ago, he went from a thousand hives to 300 colonies."

But local backyard beekeepers said the hives in their smaller-scale operations are normal.

Scientists are so concerned about the bee population's decline that they are opening a bee sperm bank at Washington State University.