Polar Vortex significantly reduces bee population

By Heather Meade hmeade@civitasmedia.com

June 21, 2014

DARKE COUNTY - It’s estimated that two-thirds of the bee hive population was lost due to the extended, frigidly cold weather over the winter, said Steve Brumbaugh, Darke County apiary inspector.

“It was a very hard winter on bees, along with trees and everything else in nature,” Brumbaugh stated.

Bees go dormant in long periods of extreme cold, Brumbaugh said; if they don’t come out of their dormant state soon enough, they’ll starve to death, even if there’s honey right beside them.

“We’ve had years of excessive cold, but 20-below weather, extended like it was, the length is what got them,” Brumbaugh said.

It’s bad news, all around, when the bee populations are reduced, too, he said.

“Honey bees are the main pollinators of our crops; they do a good, thorough job,” Brumbaugh stated. “Some crops have to be pollinated by bees or other insects, if those crops don’t get pollinated, we lose our food source.”

The honey crop will also be significantly reduced this year, Brumbaugh stated, and that’s probably a trend that people will see across the nation, he added, not just in Darke County.

“A lot of my bees that did survive aren’t producing honey yet, they’re still too weak,” Brumbaugh shared. “This cruel, wet weather that we’re having has slowed them down a bit…It’s going to be a honey shortage year.”