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Honey Bee Shortage Affecting Local Beekeepers

Updated: 07/06/2014 10:48 PM
Created: 07/06/2014 9:34 PM KAALtv.com
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- Honeybees are busy in the months of July and August. It's time to make the honey flow, but it's hardly as abundant nowadays.

The huge decline in bees at large-scale bee operations is proving to be costly for local beekeepers. It's well known. The bad-news buzz is heard everywhere.  A rapid decline in honeybees is a sting to the economy and, essentially, nourishment.

"Well they're an integral part of our cultural system, without the honey bees we don't have food to eat," said beekeeper Andrew Pruett.

From pesticides to the "Varroa" mite, there are many explanations.

"Like some chemical pressures. We don't deal with a lot of that around here," said Rochester beekeeper Fred Kappauf.

On Kappauf's bee farm at his Sekapp Orchard in Rochester, that may be so, but shortages from those factors at large scale distributors trickle down.

"You know, they're suffering such great losses of up to 50%, and that's just not financially doable or stable," explained Kappauf.

Kappauf gets his bees from all the way in California. The honeybees usually come in boxes that weigh about two to three pounds. Lately, he has been paying anywhere from $70 dollars to $100 dollars for each individual box. However, before the shortage was observed, the cost hardly ever exceeded $70.

"They're able to produce enough bees, but at what cost," questioned Kappauf.

For decades, the flow of honey has slowed. The surety of sweetness is felt much less than it once was. Crops like almonds and fruits are heavily at risk because of the decline.

"They're under more pressures than they ever have been," said Kappauf with concern.

Still, he's holding on to some hope for the honey bees.

"You know, there's the diligence of the people. There's more beekeepers now than ever, just be diligent, don't give up."