Decline of honey bee population raises big concerns among farmers

Global Business

There’s been a worldwide decline in the population of the honey bee. That’s raising concerns not just among environmentalists, but among farmers as well. CCTV America’s Roza Kazan reports from the U.S state of Wisconsin.

In the United States alone, these bees help pollinate about $15 billion worth of crops, prompting Washington to get involved in efforts to stem the losses.

Follow Roza Kazan on Twitter@rozakazancctv

Decline of honey bee population raises big concerns among farmers

There's been a worldwide decline in the population of the honey bee. That's raising concerns not just among environmentalists, but among farmers as well. CCTV America's Roza Kazan reports from the U.S state of Wisconsin.

John Kendall took up beekeeping as a hobby after his retirement as a farmer and he’s embraced every part even its inherent risks. In this winter, he lost his beehives.

“It’s devastating when it happens,” he said. “They are there one day and you look at them. The next day, all of a sudden they are gone, no sign of any bee.”

It’s called “colony collapse disorder,” a troubling phenomenon among honey bees first recognized as a widespread concern back in 2006. Members of Kendall’s beekeeping club say they’ve suffered losses as high as 80 percent.

Over the last eight years, American beekeepers have lost 30 percent of their hives on average each winter. That’s at a cost of $500 a hive. That is a big increase compared to 10-15 percent, the historical norm of overwinter losses prior to 2006.

Scientists like entomology professor Bethia King blame a variety of factors, including pesticides, disease and a lack of traditional food sources.

That’s why the U.S. government has launched a new $8 million incentive program to encourage farmers to grow bee-friendly crops.

The program targets five Midwestern U.S. states where more than half of the country’s commercially managed honey bees are kept every summer.