Declining bee populations a bit of a mystery - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Declining bee populations a bit of a mystery

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There's been a lot of buzz lately about the lack of honey bees around the country and in southeast Tennessee. David Reed of the Tennessee Valley Beekeepers Association has been in the business nearly 25 years and says the problem has only recently gained more attention.

"Now they've brought it more into a framework and there's a measured effort being done about how to find out what the problems are and what is causing it," says Reed.

It's been dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and it's affected around 30% of Reed's hives. Reed describes trying to pinpointing a cause is like aiming at a moving target. There could be several factors, like the Varroa Mite and the Hive Beetle. But attempts at fighting them using pesticides is harmful to the bees.

"Weather can impact the production of bees. Weather can impact queens laying and things like that," explains Reed.

Reed goes on to say, however, that honey bees usually only die from extreme "ups and downs" in weather. While this past winter was colder than normal it was consistently cold.

Also, strangely enough, some bees have even been disappearing from hives which have plenty of honey for feeding.

Honey bees pollinate so many of our crops that they affect one out of every three bites of food we take. So it's important their colonies get back on track. Less pollination means less local produce is available. This costs you more at the checkout line when stores have to rely on more outside suppliers.

"If you don't have your locally produced, ripe, right out of the field products then you're going to have to get them from other sources," adds Reed.

Something that concerns retiree Lu Lewis.

"I love fresh things and I think it's a concern of all of ours that it will really so high that it will unaffordable for some of us," says Lewis.

Reed says other bees such as bumble and carpenter bees are being tested for pollination. As long as we stay consistently warm with occasional rain through spring and summer he believes the populations can rebound. He also says gardening at home and letting your dandelions grow can help increase pollination.
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