Illinois bee populations declining

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 4:25 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - A study from the U.S Department of Agriculture shows Illinois has lost more than a quarter of it’s bee population since last year, a fact that has beekeepers concerned.

Beekeeper and Mississippi Valley Beekeepers treasurer Josh Inghram said while pesticides, herbicides, and habitat loss have a role in declining bee populations, the main cause for population loss in Illinois is mites.

Inghram said said the mites latch onto bees and spread from colony to colony as bees travel, weakening their immune system and make them vulnerable to diseases.

“We’re seeing large losses over the winter,” he said. “From years ago when maybe it was 20 percent all the way down to 50 percent. 50 percent is an acceptable amount of loss and when I say acceptable, almost a painful amount. Nobody wants to lose 50% of what they have.”

Inghram said one way to mitigate the problem is use of a miticide which paralyzes the mites to get them off bees, causing them to die of starvation. He said it’s difficult because mites can spread quickly.

He said declining bee populations could have an effect on farmers as bigger bee populations can affect yields as they are the main crop pollinators.

“If you are declining the [bee] population every year, but then you are trying to increase your yield for produce, you’re possibly, or potentially, probably have potential for seeing a lower yield,” Ingrahm said.

Inghram said the good thing about the Quincy area is there are a lot of trees, which can help bees thrive. He said wild flowers like alfalfa, Black-eyed Susans and clover can also allow bees to grab nectar and

Inghram said in regards to pesticide use, he says farmers in close proximity to beekeepers should communicate so beekeepers can keep their bees in while farmers spray to minimize harm.

He said people interested in knowing more on what plants can help bees or interested in knowing more about beekeeping can check out their website.

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