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Bee deaths in Austria continue despite insecticide ban

VIENNA, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Bee deaths in Austria remain an acute problem despite the government has partially banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides from October 2013, Austria Press Agency reported Friday.

The pesticides have been linked to the so-called colony collapse disorder. Beekeepers, government organizations and NGO's considered the situation still serious due to pesticide use and varroa destructor mites.

Environmental group Global 2000 said the pesticides still remain in the soil, albeit in a lower concentration.

However, the mild winter just passed by is largely blamed for the problems of varroa mites which caused bees being active earlier this year, said President of the Beekeeper's Association Johann Gruscher.

However, it is yet too early to tell how many bees have died over this winter, though zoologists from the University of Graz said about 17.6 percent of bees died in Winter 2012/2013, with total bee number estimates for 2012 at 380,000.

Austrian Agriculture Minister Andrae Rupprechter vowed Friday to develop an "effective and efficient bee protection program" to avoid further loss of bees.

Earlier this year, the minister announced a special directive to promote beekeeping.

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