Honeybees struggling with current drought conditions

The dry start to the year started a domino effect on bee populations in the state.
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 5:23 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The dry start to the year started a domino effect on bee populations in the state. Because of the early bloom and dry conditions, area beekeeper Patricia Wells said the bee populations couldn’t stockpile enough food.

“They’re not able to go out and get as much pollen and nectar as they normally would. That leads to a smaller brood population,” said Wells.

It’s another blow to South Dakota’s bee population, which Wells said has ranked second highest in honey production historically in the nation.

“And the bees are already stressed enough from all of the chemicals that are out in the environments. It really puts a lot of stress on the bees and the beekeeper,” said Wells.

That struggle with resources extends to zoos as well, where water bills are already high enough. But the need to practice conservation, as the need to keep animals hydrated and clean as well, means letting nature take its course on other zoo plants and landscaping.

“We are conscious of water use here, and zoos in general use enough water anyway, with the hosing of exhibits, and so forth. And the pools, and things like that,” said Bramble Park Zoo General Curator Jim Lloyd.

Wells said beekeepers can feed their populations with a sugar syrup solution. But that comes at a high monetary cost, and can only minimize the damage.

“Your costs are skyrocketing, the population of your hive is going down. And you need all of those bees, basically to survive the winter,” said Wells.

Wells said that at the current rate, she’ll have to start feeding her bees around mid-July, just ti keep as many alive before winter as possible. Wells said that any damage to bee populations will have an effect on the food chain, including humans.

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