James Murray walked into his East Gwillimbury backyard last week to check on his bee colonies, but what he found was a mass die-off.

The situation has only gotten worse for Murray. He has lost 17 colonies so far, that’s about one million bees.

"They flop over on their back, they shake, they're shaking uncontrollably its horrible," Murray says.

Murray says these bees were healthy and were even being monitored by the University of Guelph.

He believes neonicotinoid pesticides or "neonics" are responsible for the die-off.

“It's pesticide for sure, there no doubt about that.”

Neonics are widely used to treat corn and soy seeds. The chemicals are highly toxic to bees. Provincial and federal inspectors have collected samples of these dead bees, but it'll be months before tests come in to confirm if neonics were a factor.

The province has introduced new regulations to reduce the use of neonic pesticides. Up to half of soybean and corn crops were to be planted without the chemical treatment this year.

Next year, neonics will only be allowed in fields with proven insect infestations. The government is providing free training to help farmers comply with the new rules, but some beekeepers say it'll take years for bees to recover from the wide-spread use of the chemicals.

"I think it will take another two or three years, 2020” says Peter Dickey of Dickey Bee Honey.” That is a good year. That’s what I'm shooting for.”