04:59 GMT +325 March 2017
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    Vanishing bees threaten Italian farmers

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    ROME, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - Almost half of the Italy's 50 billion bee population died last year causing panic among Italy's farmers and environmentalists.

    The shocking mortality rate could have a drastic effect on the country's 25-million-euro honey industry which could plummet by at least 50% this year, and wreak havoc on fruit crops.

    Experts consider that the losses to the Italian agriculture sector could reach estimates of 250 million euros ($370 million).

    The cause of the deaths is not yet known. The Italian environment agency said on Tuesday that the unprecedented numbers could be triggered by climate change and environmental pollution.

    Other specialists believe that the mysterious phenomenon killing bees is the so called colony collapse disorder in which a bee simply disappears from a hive.

    Meanwhile, the situation in the U.S. where up to 70% bees have already died is far worse than in Italy, a spokesman in the Italian environment agency said. The epidemic has also hit France, Germany, Britain, Brazil, Australia, and Canada.

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