Fri, 13 Apr 2012 07:06 UTC
A recent Harvard study has a theory on why bees are dying around the country.
It links pesticides to the problem and what's called colony collapse disorder.
The study says the pesticide imidacloprid, from the class of neonicotinoid pesticides is an insect neurotoxin, and makes the bees leave the hive, or not find their way back.
Since 2006, commercial beekeepers have reported a 30 to 90-percent loss in bee colonies.
The San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture said the imidacloprid is widely used in the state and on the Central Coast.
Wade Johnston, of TheraBee is a bee-keeper who builds small apiaries on properties around San Luis Obispo County. He said he's focusing on raising healthier, stronger bees.
"One that can fight off the pesticides, one that survive the mites or do something about the mites themselves and hopefully be able to produce a sustainable food," said Johnston.
He believes colony collapse disorder is a combination of several issues... including pesticides, pathogens, virus, and mites -- that attach themselves to the bees or colonies.
"It's like having something the size of a cat on you, sucking your blood, your lifesource," he said.
Studies show the bees have been dying by the billions since 2006. This could potentially devastate our food supply. Crops like avacados, apples, strawberries, almonds and lemons are pollinated by bees.
"Six out of ten bites of food you take depend on the bees. So if the bees are gone, then there's going to be six out of ten bites of food gone, and that leaves you with 40-percent to survive on. That's not sustainable."
He believes small at-home bee apiaries could help the Central Coast... by raising healthier bees that will pollinate the wildflowers and fruits. Erin Pottmeyer of San Luis Obispo County has had an apiary on her property for a year. She said Wade takes care of it all, and doesn't know they're there... except she enjoys the honey they produce, and takes pride in the good it's doing for the community.
"Because of the bees pollinating, we get more of the local foods at the farmer's markets," she said.
Wade Johnston's company, TheraBee also sells their honey, produced entirely on the Central Coast.
He said it possible to tend for an apiary yourself, but also encourages the help of a professional bee-keeper to do the work.
But, check with your local city to see if keeping bees is allowed where you live. Different cities have different restrictions.