The bee population across the nation continues to dwindle. While many people think of bees mostly as pests, they are an essential part of the growing process for more than a third of crops here in Pennsylvania. Now many local growers are turning to imported bees to help them out.
Mark Boyer is the owner and manager for Ridgetop Orchards. For the past 30 years, the orchard has relied on imported bees to pollinate the crops
“Colony collapse disorder has affected everybody in the fruit and vegetable industry. It’s something we still haven’t had a cure for or really known what the absolute the cause,” said Boyer.
This past Sunday about 330 hives and nearly 10 million bees were trucked in. That’s roughly one for every operating acre and cost the orchard $30,000.00.
Boyer says, “bees are getting more expensive and harder to find. For instance, we used to get double the amount bees for half the cost now it’s the opposite.”
According to the USDA between January 2015 and January 2016, about 18% of bees died off.
Recently researchers at Pennsylvania State University identified a gene that could help bees respond better to viruses and parasites.
Until colony collapse disorder is cured Boyer says he will continue to rely on the traveling bees.
“I don’t know if you can put a real number on what the bees do,” said Boyer. “It’s impossible. We have crops because we bring bees in, and our neighbors have crops because we bring bees in.”
To find out how you can help protect the local bee population click here.