Bees: Part 1 - Helping to keep the species alive

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SKANDIA, Mich. (WLUC) - The constant disappearance of honey bees still remains a mystery. Bee keepers have many theories on ways this can be avoided. In this first part of a two-part series, TV6 reports on how we can help the survival of honey bees.

Much of the food we consume exists due to pollination from honey bees. There is a decline in the bee population, with several factors is causing this.

“The issue is going to be mites; the same thing that bothers beekeepers all over the country,” Beekeeper Joel Lantz said. “That's why there is 50 percent die off every year."

Varroa mites are able to latch onto adult bees and brood where they suck the blood which in turn eventually kills the bee. Other beekeepers noticed starvation has played a factor.

“We had a warm winter and when we had those thaws, they got active and ate all their food,” Beekeeper Lori Kulju said.

Beekeepers are finding ways to avoid colony collapse disorder. Whether that's giving the bees extra food through a candy board or finding ways to kill the mites without it being harmful to the bee.

“We've really resisted using chemicals. We don't want it to get into anything that we are using and just philosophically we are opposed to that,” Lantz said. “We don't like pesticides that get into things. We don't like herbicides that get into everything. We are going to have to become more aggressive, still going non-chemical, but organic compounds we will probably start to use."

For non-beekeepers who want to play a role in bee survival, there are things you can do to help.

“Plant flowers in your yard. Don't mow so much. Let your grass grow higher. Don't try to kill all the weeds that flower,” Lantz said. “Think, one-two-three times before you use pesticides and herbicides, which is just not good for bees or plants that bees like."

In the second part of this series on beekeeping, which airs Tuesday, we'll talk to you about a group of students who are doing what they can do help the declining population of honey bees.

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