Mites, hunger top problems for bee communities

Pennsylvania Farm Show

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A couple of years back, the big ‘Save the Bees’ campaign received national attention and the hivemind had its mind on hives.

The campaign’s main focus was colony collapse — bees leaving hives and not coming back. Now, the problem isn’t that the bees are disappearing, it’s another parasite is entering the hive.

“[Varroa mites] just multiply so quickly that it outnumbers the bees, and they bring so many viruses with them, and they’re killing the bees,” said Gary Carns, Capital Area Bee Keeping Association president.

Hunger is another killer. Carns says many hives don’t get enough food — a problem made worse by weeding.

“So, the dandelions and the clovers, the stuff we’re used to having in our yards — they’re very beneficial when it comes to the honey bees,” Carns said.

When it comes to public perception, Carns said people need to understand that most of the time, honey bees are as sweet as their name.

“Honey bees are normally not aggressive, and people blame everything that yellow jacket does on that honey bee,” Carns said.

Although, the bees aren’t standing alone. Beekeepers are working with universities like Penn State to change bees genetics, making them more resilient.

“We have some bees that will actually help fight the mites and pick those mites off,” said Cathy Vorisek, a beekeeper from Crawford County.

“Get involved with a club, learn, team up with someone who knows about bees, and please, don’t look at Youtube videos just because he’s wearing a white suit — he knows nothing,” Carns said.

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