LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – Bees are starting to swarm along the Front Range, but one place where bees are struggling is in Boulder County.

Last year’s floods killed many hives and it could affect local honey prices in the county where the bee population was already in decline.

When the floods hit, it was catastrophic as thousands of hives washed away. The president of the Beekeeper’s Association says he was harvesting up to two tons of honey a year. But this year he will be lucky to have any.

A beekeeper for more than 30 years, Miles McGaughey was anticipating a banner year for honey production when disaster hit last fall.

“We brought our bottles and mowed the bee yards. By the time we could get near those bee yards they were completely washed out,” McGaughey said. “It took them all away.”

Of 124 hives he lost all but 26.

“So we took a deep breath and made plans to regroup,” he said.

McGaughey brought bees from California — and then came the second blow — the entire population was wiped out by a cold snap.

“This was horrific and just a real tremendous shot in the gut,” he said.

Six weeks later and a second trip to California, McGaughey is rebuilding from ground zero, and so much is at stake.

“Bees are responsible for 1/3rd to 2/3rds of our diet, and when they’re gone it’s going to be hard to replace them,” he said. “For one jar of honey (there are) 80,000 miles of travel back and forth from flower to hive.”

But this year he said there will be very little honey.

“It will be pretty much zero because you have a choice of growing bees or honey. You have to be an optimist to be a beekeeper.”

McGaughey says the support he has received from bee lovers has helped. So too has the weather this spring. There have been large bee swarms that should help in rebuilding the bee population. But McGaugheysays it is more important that pesticide use is limited and encourage Congress to pass laws


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