Purdue: Bees Dying by the Thousands

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – A silent killer is wiping out our area’s honey bee population, and beekeepers hope something is done soon before it’s too late.

Perry and Beverly Riley have been beekeepers for 9 years.  Since last summer, Perry has lost about 80-percent of his bees.  He says last year’s drought hurt, and then this past winter did in a number more.

“They’re already weak, and that just put the hammer to them,” said Perry.

As if bad weather weren’t enough, beekeepers like the Riley’s will tell you there’s an even more dangerous bee killer out there: pesticides farmers use in their fields.

“They don’t kill them all at once.  It’s a slow kill.  They’ll go in in the winter, and by spring they’re dead,” said Perry.

Purdue University says bees are dying by the thousands.  A dry spring means the pesticides can be wind blown onto plants like dandelions.  When bees come to pollinate, they’re in essence covered in poison, which they take back to their hives.

“It’s just like you eating a little bit of rat poison every day.  If you keep eating it long enough, you’ll get sick and die,” said Perry.

So what does this mean for you?  Honey bees are responsible for 80% of all pollination that happens in nature.  Without bees, fruit trees will not be as productive.

“They say other insects will pollinate.  The other insects all die,” said Perry.  “So in the spring when your fruit comes in, the honey bees are the only one with the numbers to do it.”

Prices of fruits, plums, and oranges could go up if the bees continue to die.  Perry hopes we take a closer look at the chemicals used on crops.  He says the bee shortage is at a serious stage.

“We’re at the first stage of people starting to wonder what we’re going to do.”  But Perry fears nothing may be done until we start to see the consequences of killing off our honey bees.

Prices on California almonds are also going up due to a bee shortage there.  The industry even resorted to importing honey bees from Australia so trees could be pollinated.

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