Mid-Missouri Honey Producers See Decline in Bees

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BOONE COUNTY - Honey bees across the state are pollinating, but honey producers are seeing a decline in the pesky, but important insects.

Art Gelder, a honey producer in Boone County, said he has seen a noticeable decline in honey bees over the last few years. Gelder said one of his colonies completely collapsed four years ago. This loss equaled about 45 percent of his hives at the time. Gelder said he is concerned no one has pinpointed an exact reason for this decline.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported several factors for the decline including pesticides, poor nutrition and disease. The problem is bees play a crucial role in pollinating the crops Americans use daily. The USDA reported the pollination by honey bees helps make a third of all food and beverages and contributes $20 to $30 billion dollars to agriculture production annually.

Gelder said he has been maintaining bee hives for the last 20 years. In an average year with 80 to 100 hives, Gelder said he produced nearly 6,000 pounds of honey.