Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

February 23, 2014

Benzie County bees stay north for the winter


“Honeybees are very important in Michigan as they support an almost $1 billion dollar per year agriculture industry. Blueberries, apples, cherries, peaches, plums—they all need honeybees,” Huang said. “Agriculture is dependent on the beekeeping industry.”

Many beekeepers find it economically beneficial to take their colonies to southern states to pollinate other crops during the winter. Presently, the almond industry has been paying record amounts for bees and is drawing beekeepers from across the nation.

“There are 800,000 acres of almonds in California and honeybees are essential,” said Griswold. “It’s worthwhile for beekeepers to go. Almost every beekeeper in Michigan has bees in the almonds right now.”

Both Huang and Griswold believe protecting bee pasture is essential to the long-term survival of bees.

“Bee pasture is disappearing due to mono-cropping,” said Griswold. “Hundreds of thousands of acres of wildflowers are being plowed under for corn and soybeans.”

“I don’t know how long this will be sustainable, because we’re losing 30 to 40 percent of our colonies every year,” Huang said. “Imagine if farmers lost 30% of their cattle every year? This has happened for the last seven years and eventually, it might reach a breaking point.”

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