Bees are key in producing nation's food
A still unknown cause is depleting the nation’s supply of worker bees — bees that are immensely important to putting food on the tables of all Americans.
Some call it Colony Collapse Disorder, others say it may be due to chemical spraying and others say genetically altered crops may be the culprit, but after nearly a decade, no one knows for sure what is killing billions of bees a year.
This is bee season and the decline in the number of hives is never more evident. Local beekeepers told us that some beekeepers suffered a loss of more than 50 percent of their colonies this winter alone. One beekeeper told us he has lost 3,300 colonies over the past six years.
It is not just a regional problem. Whatever is killing the bees, is doing so in all parts of the nation. Already, more than a million hives are brought into California to meet the demand, and those out of state beekeepers also suffered huge losses this winter.
Bees are key to the almond industry that has approximately 800,000 acres of trees needing bees to create the crop. Those white boxes you see in the almond orchards are every bit as important as water you see in the rows.
Bees are also important to scores of other crops, especially stone fruit such as peaches and nectarines. However, honey, which is produced by bees, is used in hundreds of products we eat and drink every day.
Researchers have been working on finding out just what is causing the loss of bees. A beekeeper said the bees are there when spring begins, but they appear to be weak and when they leave the hive, they simply don’t return.
We hope the United States Department of Agriculture makes finding a solution to the loss of the nation’s bee supply a top priority. A solution must be found to ensure the nation’s supply of food and for the viability of many growers, least of those the beekeepers themselves.
Editorials in The Porterville Recorder are the opinion of the editorial board which consists of publisher Paula Patton, editor Rick Elkins and managing editor Brian Williams. Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Recorder.