Hobby bee keepers help bees to keep ecosystem functioning

Bees have many roles: the drones, the worker and of course the queen.  They all work together to pollinate flowers and keep our ecosystem functioning.  But a mass death of honeybees has put $212 billion of the world’s economy at risk, threatening 30 percent of U.S. bee colonies and 20 percent of Europe’s.

There is an issue called colony collapse disorder, where bee hives around the country are dying off unexplained,” said Nicole Preeble, a 2nd year hobby bee keeper.   

Researchers say blood – feeding parasites, fungi, bee viruses and pesticide exposure are probable factors. Whatever the cause, everyone is affected not just honey lovers.

“30% of what you eat is a product or has come in contact with a bee somewhere along the line: your fruits, your vegetables, the flowers out here,” said Jerry Owens, a local bee keeper.

 52 of the world’s leading 112 crops rely on pollination. And if bees continue to die off the sting to the agriculture market could be severe.  They are on the decline but that’s why we’re doing this to create awareness and to get more bees in the area starting with 1.5 million bees.

“There’s a 100 nooks and there’s about 1500 bees in each nook,” said Owens. “And over the course of the summer if the hive goes well, we’ll have maybe 60 to 80, maybe even 100 thousand bees in a hive.” 

Those nooks go home today with hobby bee keepers from around the area.  But first hobbyists get a seminar from Owens, who teaches them how to fill their hives.  

“A year ago when I first put my bees in the hive it was nerve wrecking; I was pretty nervous but it went smoothly,” said Preeble. “I think it’s good people are getting into it and are getting interested like this,” said Clark Blake, a first time hobby bee keeper.

 Owens say bee keeping is a hobby with sweet rewards.  It helps bees, crops, the ecosystem and our appetites. 

“I’ll never eat store bought honey again,” said Preeble.

Owens says bee keepers won’t likely see any honey until fall but it’s the second year when they’ll see a large return.  According to the USDA, 176 million pounds of honey was produced last year. The price of honey reached a record level in 2010 at about $1.60 a pound.

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