Honey bee populations are at risk

While many people fear their stingers, bees are important to making things grow. 

Honey bee season kicks off in April and runs until September. That's when local beekeepers can start raising their bee farm.

"So in the spring we would start either a package or a nucleus colony out, feed them through the summer, and get them to try and survive the winter. Then anything that overwinters, the following year will be able to take care of themselves, " Mark Lilly, President of Raleigh County Beekeepers Association, said. 

That colony would produce honey during its second year, but honey bee populations are declining across the country. 

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, more than 25 percent of the managed honey bee population has disappeared since 1990. 

"I think it's something that everybody is beginning to realize how important the ecosystem is and that everything is a link to something else, " Lilly said.

This past year, yellow jacket populations were high and they invaded some colonies- but that's not their only threat. 

Bears pose a huge threat to honeybee colonies. One common misconception about bears is they are after the honey, but in fact, they are after the bees themselves. 

Warmer temperatures can be beneficial for a day or two, but can lead to bigger problems if it stays warm.

"If it's warm for too many days, they're consuming the honey that they've stored and obviously there's no nectar sources available for them so then we have to be concerned that they don't have enough resources to get through winter, " Lilly told us. 

If you want to become a bee keeper, there's a class every Tuesday at 7pm on the Beaver Campus of New River Technical and Community College in Room 127. 

You can find out more about beekeeping on the Raleigh County Beekeepers Cooperative Association's website


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