July 31, 2011

Honeybee population still declining?

There is more "buzz" coming from beekeepers in Virginia than from their bees. The decline of the honeybee population has been in nationwide news for many years. Virginia had about 100,000 honeybee hives in the 1970s, and we are now down to about 35,000.

'Colony collapse disorder' is the name for the decline. Mites infiltrate hives and wipe out 30 percent of Virginia's honeybees every winter. Other suspects are pesticides, transporting bees from one area to a different environment, and even electromagnetic waves from cellphones.

The bright side to this is that a renewed interest in beekeeping has resulted in more than 40 beekeeper groups in Virginia today--up from 12 in 2000.

This downward trend does not bode well for many crops and fruit trees. The USDA estimates that "bee pollination contributes $15 billion annually to the nation's crop value." (Daily Press)