ST. LOUIS (KMOX)- There’s a lot of buzz going on in St. Louis about beekeeping.
About 300 beekeepers from around the country attended the 2012 Heartland Apicultural Society Annual Conference at UMSL.
The three-day event consisted of many presentations dealing with modern techniques for beekeeping, the biology of honey bees, and some of the lasting problems with honey bees, including ways to resolve them.
Co-founder of Three Rivers Beekeepers and current vice president of the Eastern Missouri State Beekeepers Association, John Timmons says over the last two to three decades, the honey bee population has declined due to many factors.
“Probably the most major (issue) is insecticides that are used in our environment and in agriculture,” he says.
Other issues for the honey bee include colony collapse disorder and the Varroa mite.
“The Varroa mite was brought into the United States in the ’80s,” Timmons says. “It’s a little critter, and hundreds, in some cases thousands, can infest a hive.”
The mite causes many problems for the hives, even destroying them altogether.
A third of everything we eat can be attributed to the pollination services of the honey bee.
“If we lose our honey bee, and many of our other pollinators, we’re going to lose a lot of the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy eating,” Timmons says.
Timmons gives a lot of credit to the state department of agriculture that put initiative in the Great Missouri Buzz Off to make Missouri more aware of the honey bee problem.
And St. Louis seems to have an interest in beekeeping.
“Five to six years ago, there were probably 50 beekeepers in the St. Louis area,” he says. “Today, it’s estimated there are 500 beekeepers across the St. Louis region.”
Timmons says he believes that’s because there are two powerful clubs in the St. Louis region that promote beekeeping, and a lot of people are interested in the environment and honey bees.
Although beekeeping is more challenging today, Timmons says it’s still a very rewarding hobby.