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Beekeeper Steve Ellis stands in a bee yard where about 1,300 hives wait to be placed in fields for summer honey production in a photo taken May 22 in Barrett. Thousands of bees recently died, and Ellis blames neonicotinoid pesticides. Ellis expects his hives to be much less productive this year. Dan Gunderson | MPR Photo

As bees perish, researchers search for causes and solutions

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Elbow Lake — In a sprawling bee yard, beekeeper Steve Ellis, wearily surveyed 1,300 hives destined for fields across the countryside.

Given that bees pollinate fruits, vegetables and nuts, and pollination is required for about one third of all food production, he should be enthused about their summer journey.

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