Why Are Bees Not Buzzing As Much?

Friday, May 16th 2008, 10:04 pm
By: News On 6

Honey bees are disappearing at an alarming rate across the U.S. and no one knows why. It's a problem that could have devastating effects on America's dinner plate.

News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren reports more bees are vanishing and scientists are scrambling to find answers.

The honey bee may seem insignificant, but what we all must realize is the bee is not insignificant at all.

"They play that important role that carries these plants into fruiting and the production of food as we know it," said Bruce Peverley of the OSU Extension Center.

Agriculture experts remind us that bees are responsible for the growth of about one-third of the foods we eat, but lately a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder is making our nations bees disappear.

"It's a scary time. It really is," said beekeeper Kenny Hammond.

Hammond raises bees as a hobby.  He's a passionate fourth generation beekeeper. Hammond affectionately named his bees his "girls."

"Bees are critical for Oklahoma as well as any other state as far as pollination goes. All of your melons, your cantaloupes, your watermelons, if you don't have bees you don't get much of a crop," said Hammond.

Hammond says Colony Collapse Disorder doesn't seem to affect hobbyist beekeepers much. It mostly affects companies who raise bees commercially to pollinate large farming operations.

After two years of research that question remains, where are the bees going? And why?

"People ask me what I think it's all about. And I say it's God's way of telling us we're fat and he's going to start withholding some of our food," said Hammond with a laugh.

A new study shows about 36% of commercial beekeepers honeybee colonies have disappeared because of Colony Collapse Disorder. That's up almost 14% from this time last year.

In fact the problem has scared ice cream maker Häagen-Dazs into donating a quarter of a million dollars into research on the subject.