Delmarva Bee Populations Take A Hit Over Winter - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delmarva Bee Populations Take A Hit Over Winter

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 CAMBRIDGE, Md.- The term "worker bee" is well earned.  These little honeybees work from dawn till dusk, pollinating every flower they come across.  Farmer Paul Jackson at Emily's Produce used to rely on wild bees to do all that work, but he can't anymore.

"In the last three to four years, I haven't had any bees. Not wild bees. So we've had some bees brought in by some friends of mine," said Jackson.

Manmade hives line Paul's fields.  But they took a hit in the past few months, thanks in no small part to old man winter.

"Because of last year's weather, we lost four out of five hives due to the cold weather. They actually starved to death in the hives, with food in the hives. They won't move when they get cold, so they just sat there and starved to death, it didn't warm up in time," said Jackson.

A harsh blow, because feral bee populations are taking a hit as well.  WBOC caught up with Dean Burroughs, a Maryland state apiary inspector as he looked at a backyard hive in Bishopville.  He says parasites called varroa mites are the main problem bees face now.

"They chew into the larvae of the bee, of the adult bee, and cause viruses that usually kill them. So we're losing 40 to 50 percent of our bees, some of the big commercial guys are losing 80 percent," said Burroughs.

And that is a big problem, not just for farmers, but for everyone.

"A third of all the food we eat needs to be pollinated by honeybees, so that's very important. Our fruits, our vegetables, even the grasses that our cows feed on so we can have good beef and steak need to be pollinated," said Burroughs.

Dean says the bees will eventually adapt to handle those deadly mites, in the meantime, the bees need as much help as they can get
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