GULF COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — This past winter season had the highest number of lost bees reported since 2006, and the number continues to decline. Data shows that the national bee population is falling more and more each year.
This includes the number of bees in Gulf County, which is home to Tupelo Honey.
Ben Lainer is a fourth generation beekeeper in Wewahitchka.
“It is so much harder to keep a hive alive than it was when I was 15 years old,” said Lainer.
He and many other beekeepers are concerned about the decline in their population.
One of the biggest killers across the Panhandle is the varroa mite.
“It’s the size of the head of a straight pin,” said Lainer. “They are really giant parasites and they also have a microscopic one that gets in their trachea.”
They become resistant to the chemicals that beekeepers use to kill them.
“We need something bad,” said Lainer. “We need somebody to find something that will really kill the mite and not hurt the bee.”
Another problem that beekeeps are facing is Larvicide and other insecticides.
“It took me a while to figure it out but if the bees are watered in the same ditch as the larvicide, it kills the larva and it will kill the hive also,” said Lainer.
Hurricane Michael also had an impact, killing may bees in its path. Lainer lost several hundred bees in the storm and produced very little honey this season.
“Trees fell on them, and smushed the beehives flat,” said Lainer. “The wind blew them out through the woods.”