Beekeepers hope 7 endangered bee species serve as wake-up call

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – For the first time in history, bees have been placed on the endangered species list.

Seven species of yellow-faced bees were placed on the list several weeks ago. Protection for those species officially starts on Monday.

While all of the endangered bees are located in Hawaii, the fact that they’re on the list is significant.

“I think that it’s really good that we’re recognizing the importance of pollinators,” said Kirsten Lewis, beekeeper. “And as we recognize the impact that these species are having on our agriculture and on eating the things we like to eat, I think that’s a good thing.”

Honeybees are not included on the list, but their population is declining worldwide. That concerns beekeeper Jerry Flanagan.

“The honeybee is not on the endangered species list, but it doesn’t matter,” said Flanagan. “Without a beekeeper to manage the honeybee, they would be on the endangered species list overnight.”

After a rough start this spring, locally managed hives have fared pretty well this year.

“Our bees had a pretty good summer,” Flanagan said. “It wasn’t the best nectar-flow, honey-producing, year right here in eastern North Carolina. Our late freeze took care of a lot of our nectar flow.”

Kirsten Lewis agreed.

“I was hoping to come away with 80 gallons this year,” said Lewis. “I took 15.”

They are hoping that colder weather comes soon.

A warm December last year caused many colonies to go through their winter food stores early. This year, they hope the bees go into their winter slumber and stay there until the spring.

 

If you’re interested in becoming a beekeeper, there are several beekeeping organizations across the state. To find one in your area, click here.

For more information on The Tar River Beekeepers, click here.

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