It’s only May, but 2018 is already stacking up to be a difficult year for bee populations and beekeepers in Manitoba.

Provincial apiarist Rheal Lafreniere said Tuesday preliminary bee numbers show a wide range of losses from low to high, but overall it appears to be a difficult year.

“We’re expecting bee loss to be higher than normal, about 25 to 35 per cent,” said Lafreniere.

He said some beekeepers have experienced losses as high as 70 per cent.

Lafreniere said a survey to count bee populations is underway and numbers will be finalized mid-June.

Teulon area apiarist Jake Maendel said his family is celebrating 100 years of beekeeping in Manitoba.

He said he loves bees and this is one of most challenging years of the last 20 years.

Maendel said bees died out altogether in some of his hives and others hives are weak, with bees from about 160 hives dying over the winter and the spring.

He says so far some of his winter bee loss in hives is as high as 30 per cent

Maendel blames a dry fall, long and cold winter and drawn out spring and bees have been having a hard time recuperating.

He said it’s too early to say how profits will be impacted, but it’s costing him a lot of time and money to deal with so many dead bees.

To refurbish a hive full of bees and a queen costs about $250.