BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Efforts to protect honey bees — one of Colorado’s smallest but most valuable creatures — are ramping up in Boulder County.
Most of us enjoy honey on our toast or in our tea, but honey bees also have a huge impact on agriculture.
CBS4 found being a bee isn’t easy, and the people who make a living off them have a lot to worry about.
Some beekeepers in Boulder County saw more than half their hives, or even more, die off over the winter. Beekeeper Tim Brod said he averages 25 percent loss every winter.
“Just to give you a little perspective, if you’re losing 30 to 40 percent of your livestock, if this were cattle, chicken or pigs year after year, the National Guard would be here going ‘This is a huge crisis,'” he said.
Ten years ago, Brod’s approximately 150 hives would each produce about 60 pounds of honey a year. Now he’s lucky if they deliver 20. And there are three primary culprits.
“Pesticides, lack of quality forage and disease,” he said.
Disease usually comes in the form of the dreaded mites.
As for forage, bees need carbs and protein just like us. But new development in the county means many open space areas where they’ve typically found it are being plowed under.
Brod says we can all help support a stronger bee popoulation.
“If you live in an apartment or have a small yard, get as many flowering, high nectar, high pollinating plants as you can,” he said.
Brod points out honeybees play a huge role in pollinating the American crops that help feed the world, and he says it’s time to give back.
“The big question you have to ask is ‘I know bees are in danger, and I know I’ve been part of the problem by being on this planet. I know I can be part of the solution, so what’s my best entry point for doing it?’ Because there are entry points for all of us.”
Brod suggests these plants for giving bees in your neighborhood some valuable forage:
– All types of sage, and anything in the mint family.
– Bee balm
Also, he suggests making sure your favorite nursery doesn’t use systemic pesticides. You want to make sure the plants are free of contamination when you stick them in the ground.
Brod runs Highland Honey. Get more information about the company at highlandbees.com.