Bee populations, on the decline for years, took another hit this winter as huge numbers of hives died off in Central New York.
It’s all due to last year’s dry conditions damaging pollen, forcing bees into Winter undernourished and unable to survive.
”The drought degraded the quality of the pollen,” explained Al Saracene, a beekeeper in Cortland. “Bees need two things to survive – honey and pollen – to sustain them during the winter.”
The result killed nine out of ten of Saracene’s hive but says “another keeper lost 70 to 80 percent of 200 hives.”
While some loss over winter is normal, Saracene says the loss many honey producers, including himself, have experienced isn’t.
It’s a big hit to an insect that’s been declining steadily in numbers for years because of a variety of factors including pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution, and global warming.
It’s estimated from 2015 to 2016 beekeepers across the country lost 44 percent of their colonies.
As farmers eat the financial loss, everyone should worry because bees pollinate roughly one third of the global food supply and 80 percent of all pollination worldwide.
“They pollinate everything,” said Saracene.
In 2013, a class of pesticides were banned in Europe believed to be contributing to some of the declining numbers.
Things families can do to help bee populations bounce back:
- plant bee friendly flowers, like daisies and marigolds
- let your grass grow a little longer, even wild dandelions, popular among bees
use less pesticides