Officials are urgently trying to trace the cause of the unexplained death of around four million bees in a roughly six-kilometre area between Brescia and Cremona, reports Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.
Some 130 families of bees died between the evening of August 7th and the morning of August 8th, in what agricultural association Coldiretti described as a “catastrophe” given the importance of the pollinating insects to biodiversity.
Members of the forestry division of Italy's Caribinieri police force are investigating, as tests are carried out on the dead bees and their honey.
Beekeeping is a particularly active sector in the area, with around 119 companies in the province of Brescia alone.
“In my experience as a beekeeper I have never witnessed such a violent and massive phenomenon, truly inexplicable even for fellow beekeepers in the area,” beekeper Edoardo Mombelli, who manages 250 hives, told Il Fatto Quotidiano.
The Brescia branch of Coldiretti stated: “It is difficult to understand the causes of such a sudden and lethal phenomenon,” adding that there is “dismay and concern for an already delicate year, due to the lockdown and climate change,”
Coldiretti described 2019 as a “black year” for beekeeping after “the worst honey harvest ever” in Italy was reported due to to a string of extreme weather events.