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Dwindling Honey Bee Population A Cause For Concern

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A beekeeper pulls out a honeycomb rack covered with bees to check on the health and honey content a colony. (credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A beekeeper pulls out a honeycomb rack covered with bees to check on the health and honey content a colony. (credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The lack of honey bees is causing a lot of concern in Texas and worldwide, as bee colonies continue to die off at an alarming rate.

There are a variety of reasons for the decreasing honey bee population.  Problems include genetic diversity, a lack of forage, stress, and a destructive insect called the Varroa mite.

John Talbert is a beekeeper in Collin County who says the mite literally drains the blood out of bees. “It’s like you as a human who had a bug on your back about the size of a small dinner plate, that had created a hole in your back the size of a quarter and was sucking your blood out,” he explained explicitly.

The Varroa mite is a parasite that feeds on the blood of honey bees and reproduces on the developing bee brood. An increased Varroa mite infestation weakens bees and could lead to a devastating colony loss during the stressful wintering period.

According to Talbert, pesticides are a problem for the bees as well, but a new federal study contends there is not enough evidence to support banning any one group of pesticides.

“The report did not focus quite as much as I would have liked for it to on the role that pesticides play,” Talbert said. “But that’s a billion dollar industry and they have to be very careful of what they say against them.”

In Europe, a certain class of pesticides derived from nicotine, considered a critical factor in the mass death of honey bees, is going to be banned.

As Texas honey bees fight for their existence they, like humans, also have to deal with drought. If there’s no rain, there are no flowers, and there is no honey.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bee pollination is responsible for $15 billion in nut, berry, fruit and vegetable crops.

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