Bees buzz around collecting nectar for the hive and carry pollen from one plant to another. Their efforts affect corp yield in everything from soybeans, one of the world’s most crucial crops, to coffee, sunflowers and fruits and veggies on every continent.
Every bee keeper, including Matt Wollohan, our local bee man at Rainbow Honey, face brutal losses of bees this winter. He’s gone to leasing his bees from a man nearby who, after the bee season here, takes the traveling bees off to California to pollinate the almond crops which need over half of the nation’s pollination.
He says our nation’s bee keepers report a bigger than normal loss of up to 40 and 50 percent that is being called “colony collapse disorder.”
“With what used to be a normal winter loss of 5 to l5%, which in recent years jumped to 20 to 30 percent, a bee keeper could rebuild,” he explains, sounding ominous.
Deaths of bees began in the early l900 with the Varroa Mites from Southeast Asia Queen bees coming illegally. Next arrived the Acarine Mites from Great Britain. Those guys live inside the bees and can’t be seen. Add to these, there is evidence now of the pesticides in bees called Neonicitoids. It’s from the the pesticides sprayed on commercial fields. It means billions of bees are simply falling to the ground, dead, destroying local colonies all over the world.
The United Nations is alarmed about what’s happening to the world’s bees. The top l00 food crops provide 90% of the world’s food and bees are responsible for pollinating 70% of those crops. The U.N. is now urging a global effort to save the bees before a world crisis breaks out.
Add to the mites and pesticides, Matt points out that the drought in the Midwest has also put bees under stress.
Here in Stevens County in Washington State, he says we’re more fortunate as pesticides are used on a small scale.
Not only do bees pollinate. When you see yellow jackets or other flying bee-related types, they are doing their job, too, to help raise farm crops.
It’s not only honey that’s going to be more expensive this year, but possibly other food items.
Bees are the workhorses of agriculture. In the U.S., the Department of Agriculture says they are responsible for $15 billion in creased crop value every year.
Do give a warm welcome to any bee-related creature.