Honeybee population continues to decline - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Honeybee population continues to decline

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – For the past few years, the honeybee population has drastically declined across the nation, dropping nearly 30% each year. While you may only think of bees as providers of painful stings and honey, as their population becomes more threatened, so too does the food you eat.

The University of Georgia has received a $4.1 Million grant to study the problem and see what can be done to stop it.

Bees can certainly be pesky. Buzzing around and making an occasional sting. But these insects do much more good than bad.  Master Beekeeper Dale Richter said, "Pollination is really the honeybees main purpose."

An essential act that makes the food we eat plentiful. Without it, Richter said, "You would not have a lot of the fruits and vegetables that are out there. You'd go to the store and they just wouldn't be there."

Not into the healthy stuff? Without bees, your food could be jeopardized, too. "People say, 'well, I'm a meat eater so it won't bother me,' but the bees pollinate that grass which the cow eats, so if there's no grass for the cow, there's no cow."

And that's why scientists and beekeepers like Dale Richter are so concerned about the declining honeybee population. "The last two or three years have been anywhere from 30-33%."

A third of the bee population eliminated from disease, pesticides and lack of habitat. 

While bees can certainly make you nervous, they are vital to what you eat. Without honeybees, you wouldn't be able to put 60% of the food you now eat on your table. 

Richter said, "I've talked with beekeepers that have lost half their hives and I've talked to beekeepers that really haven't seen any decline in bees."

Richard Grebel is one of the fortunate ones, his bee hives are still buzzing right along.  He said, "We do not have that problem."

And he's hopeful that he never will. If it happens, he knows how problematic it will. "The only way they get a crop is the bees have to pollinate the tree and it's true with all of our peaches and cantelope and all that."

Keeping the food we eat abundant and available.

One of the reasons for the decline in population is environment, but pesticides, parasites and viruses are the chief culprits.

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