Honey production in Indiana — and across the nation — was down 35 percent in 2013. When the final numbers are in, it’s likely that 2013 had the smallest honey crop in history.
More significantly, this news is an indication into the further decline of honey bee health. Beekeepers saw colonies dying during the peak (and most healthy) season last summer.
Indiana Beekeeping School Director Rob Green, who has trained more than a thousand beekeepers, says the weather could be only part of the problem.
“We had a wet spring, right up to the end of June. And then a drought,” he said.
But that doesn’t explain everything. Wet springs and summer droughts are hardly new to Indiana weather. A bigger concern is what’s going on inside the bees.
“The bees have a combination of viruses and parasites,” Green said. “They’re very, very sick. And agricultural pesticides are always a concern. There’s a concern that the pesticide damage is increasing the problem with viruses and parasites.
“Seeds are coated with pesticides, and planters and seeders blow a lot of this coating into the air. It hovers above the ground in a toxic cloud and then moves slowly across the county.”
Bees are loaded with static electricity, and particles from the dusty clouds stick to the bees which return to the hives and groom themselves, spreading the particles inside the colony, Green explained.
Green’s solution to the declining bee population is to create more beekeepers. The next classes for the Indiana Beekeeping School are Jan. 17 and 18 in Avon and Jan. 24 and 25 in Madison. Information and registration is available online at www.IndianaBeekeeping.com.
The Indiana Beekeeping School is a 501(c)(3) charitable educational organization. It is not a membership association. It regularly funds honeybee research across the U.S.
For more information, Green may be reached by calling 513-6493.