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Want to help farmers? Why not consider keeping bees?



Date published: 2/28/2006

I'd like to add to the recent article concerning the lack of bees in our area ["Lack of bees may be to blame for lame crop yields," Feb. 17].

It is true that there is a heavy mortality rate among the bee population. The parasitic mites, pesticide poisoning, and winter kill-offs have all but decimated the bee population (both wild and domesticated) not only in Virginia but also the entire country.

Many people do not realize that the days of wild bee swarms are all but gone, and beekeepers will be the ones to save our crops. Beekeepers are actively involved in trying to keep bee populations alive through mite management, adding strong mite-resistant queens, and winter feedings.

The state of Virginia will lose millions of dollars due to low crop yields. Local farmers are constantly looking for hives to pollinate their crops, but their demand is not being met. One local farmer seeking hives stated that he had a 25 percent difference in crop yield when there were hives at his farm.

In addition to growing bee gardens, many bee hives in Virginia are owned by hobbyists and not commercial beekeepers. Bees are relatively easy to keep for the interested gardener. Those interested in beekeeping may want to take advantage of "Beginning Beekeeper" classes.

The Rappahannock Area Beekeepers Association is offering a nine-week course that began Feb. 22 at the Marshall Center in Spotsylvania County. Anyone interested can call the Spotsylvania County Extension Office.

Kim Fraser

Spotsylvania

The writer is president of the Rappahannock Area Beekeepers Association.