KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Bees are dying at an alarming rate. According to a recent study, beekeepers across the country lost roughly 40 percent of their colonies within the last year.
Kingsport beekeeper James Wagner says that when it comes to the problem, we're all feeling the sting. Right now he's worried about his bees. "Most of the beekeepers in this area have had a 50 percent loss this past winter," he says.
He lost that same amount last year, and 98 percent the year before. "It gets tough. And sometimes when you're constantly losing so many, frankly you have to wonder how long can you do this," Wagner says.
The problem stems from parasites, lack of nutrition and habitat loss. "We don't have the mature trees that provide nesting spaces for the honeybees," Wagner says.
The biggest problem is pesticides that people spray on crops. "The pesticide comes up through the plant, comes out in the nectar and the pollen, and then the bees take it up when they take the nectar and the pollen back to the hive and they kill the larvae," he says. That results in dead bee colonies.
In past winters, Wagner decided to split colonies, when he takes one and splits it into two or three, but that's not still not ideal for business. "If you're splitting your colonies to make up for losses, your production of honey will suffer and production of other hive products as well," he says.
Less bees means less colonies to pollinate crops, which threatens our food. That makes this a problem that Wagner says is a global concern. "With the loss of the bees, that can create a problem with food supplies in this country," he says.
It's estimated that bees play a role in the production of one-third of our food.
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