By John Ostapkovich

By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We can add another thing to the list of what the just-ended winter hammered: bees.

From an infectious mite to the mysterious colony collapse disorder, “to be(e) or not to be(e)” is not just an idle question, and you can add winter’s months of frozen tundra to the list.

Jenny Carleo, Rutgers University Agriculture and Resource Management agent in Cape May County, says the cold was bad enough but it’s bad even when that lets up.

“When a warm day occurs in the middle of the winter, they go out and they try to forage for food, but  plants are not at the phenological stage where they’re able to produce pollen or nectar at that point, so the bees come back to the hive hungry and they deplete the winter resources that they have.”

Now that things are warming up, the bees are needed to pollinate crops, “One of those being blueberries, a lot of fruits that we eat, particularly ones that we grow in this Mid-Atlantic region, like melons so it can be a problem for farmers when there’s poor pollination.”

Carleo says farmers can rent pollination services but those hives too may have been hard hit and bringing them in from outside the area could run up costs.