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The importance of keeping a strong bee population

The US Department of Agriculture  says the bee population is dropping off at a rapid rate.
Local beekeepers are doing what they can to combat this decline.
   
Why preserving the bee species is vital to our own species.
"I'm here at the Bee Sanctuary Honey Farm and there are about 8 million bees here, some of which are flying around me. A common misconception of bees is that they're aggressive but as you can see they're close to me and I'm just fine."

Tommy Van Horn
Owner of East Hill Honey Company
"Most people don't think about bees. You know a bee's, a bee."

They fly, pollinate and can sting. That about sums up what the average person knows about bees.

But the owner of the East Hill Honey Company says there's much more to this busy creature.

Tommy VanHorn
Owner of East Hill Honey Company
"The reality is  about a third of the food we consume today, a lot of the fruits and vegetables and almonds would not exist without the pollination of insects and primarily the honey bee."

Even  meat can be traced back to the honey bee. Chickens and cows often eat grains which come from plants pollinated by the honey bee.

This is why the bee population dropping off is worrisome. According to the USDA the death rate last year was about 23%. The year before that, around 30%.

Tommy Van Horn says the biggest threat to bees locally and worldwide is a parasite called the Varroa mite. The best way to fight back is to breed bees that are more resilient to their predators.

Tommy Van Horn
"Similar to a dog breeder, there's different traits that dog breeders raise dogs for and the same applies to bee keeping."

That's what Bee Sanctuary Honey Farm owner Shelby Johnson is doing.

Shelby Johnson
Bee Sanctuary Honey Farm Owner
"We make a bee that's better suited for our environment."

Another threat to bees is pesticides.
Johnson
"Pick insecticides that have a short life in the environment and that aren't systemic."

Meg McNamara
"Something that folks at  home can do to boost the bee population is plant bee friendly flowers that bloom all year long