Honey farmer: how everyone can do their part to help save the bees

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – With summer just around the corner, a number of cities and counties in North Alabama are gearing up to begin spraying for the peskiest of insects, the mosquito. But all that spraying is bringing up another annual concern, the plight of the American Honeybee.

“Around 30 to 40 percent of the hives are lost every year. The bees go out and forage, so they’ll run into pesticides as well as parasitic mites, that’s a new threat to them,” said Bill Elliot who owns Blossomwood Honey in Huntsville.

Elliott said most cities, including Huntsville, have taken steps to mitigate any harm to honey bee populations.

“They’re very aware and conscious of what they’re using and trying to use mosquito sprays that are not as lethal to the bees,” said Elliott.

When the City of Decatur announced its plans to resume spraying this summer, they asked beekeepers to double-check their registration status with the city so that spray truck drivers would be aware of their locations.

Elliot said people who do their own yard spraying can also help out the bees by taking some simple steps, including avoiding the most lethal pesticides.

“Herbicides are generally not as bad as insecticides. Using them in the morning or the late afternoon would be better than the middle of the day when the bees are out foraging,” said Elliott. “Plant bee-friendly flowers and flowering trees, a tree is just a meadow in the sky. One tree with a lot of flowers would be the equivalent to a huge amount of flowers on the ground.”

To put into perspective why it’s so important to preserve these tiny creatures, Elliot said about one-third of what we eat are vegetables and fruit. Honeybees are largely responsible for sustaining that supply through pollination.

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