Keepers in the Beehive State lament significant loss of honey bee colonies

Posted at 9:05 PM, May 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-14 09:45:31-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Beekeepers around the country are finding themselves in a sticky situation, and it's not the honey. Beekeepers have lost 42 percent of their honey bee colonies since April 2014, according to the Bee Partnership.

This drop in numbers is stinging the entire economy, according to beekeeper Kyle Kanno of The Honey Jar.

“It’s really a tragedy to see such a big decline because our whole agriculture system is so dependent on the honey bee,” Kanno said.

Kanno said the fewer beehives he has to sell, the more he has to charge the farmers, and the more the farmers have to charge the consumer.

“At 40 percent, you can’t afford to replace the hives that you lost," Kanno said. "That means lower production for us, that means sometimes the difference between profitability and going under."

In Utah there are more than 2,000 registered beekeepers, and an estimated 2,000 more that are unregistered. With the decline of bees, their businesses are plagued by doubt.

“I’m worried because it’s my life; I can’t imagine waking up in a year and finding out it’s not something I can do anymore, and I would have to quit,” Kanno said.

The use of too many pesticides is being blamed as one of the causes as to why these bees are dying off. Another factor is climate change.

“If a colony of bees is too cold to move to where the honey is, inside the beehive it starves; if it’s too warm and the bees run out of honey, they starve,” Kanno said.

In some cases, beekeepers said it’s easier to give up than see their business get swarmed with instability.

“With a 40 percent loss in your bees, that’s not sustainable for a beekeeper,” Kanno said. “Something the numbers don’t show, they don’t show how many people are getting out of the industry all together.”

Beekeepers say one way people can help is to create a national buzz when it comes to banning certain pesticides that prove to be harmful to the black and yellow insects.

There are already some countries that have banned some of these products. Beekeepers hope similar bans are adopted in the United states.