Disappearing Honeybees Creating a Buzz

May 4, 2007 - Posted at 5:20 p.m. CDT

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY-Across the United States honeybees are disappearing by the billions.

"This is something that has happened in the last year on a larger scale."

Richard Coy has been farming honeybees for over twenty years and says on an average year there is a 15% loss of hives.

However, across the nation bee farmers have recently seen losses by as much as a 25%.

"With the loss of those bees, food prices will increase, and we will see a loss of food on the shelves," said Coy.

That's because honeybees are used to pollinate over 15-billion dollars worth of fruits, nuts, and other crops annually.

Every year Coy's Honey Farm sends around 5,000 hives to the state of California to be used in almond farming, an industry that relies heavily on bee pollination.

Almond producers are very concerned about how this could affect business.

"Farmers are very interested in the amount of bee hives we can produce. They feel there is always a shortage which creates an increase in pricing," said Coy.

So what's causing the number of honeybees to dwindle?

While there is no certain reason, researchers are calling it Colony Collapse Disorder.

Coy has his own theory.

"There's no wild vegetation for the bees which only leaves crops for the bees to get their pollination from, and that pollen is usually tainted with some kind of insecticide," said Coy.

Currently the number of honeybees in Arkansas has remained stable, but for farmers there's always that chance.

"We never know, and we cross our fingers every day. Along with all of the other problems that bee hives have had, eventually everyone else in the U.S. gets the problem. So it's a matter of time," said Coy.

Colony Collapse Disorder is defined as the rapid loss of adult worker bees from the colony over a short period of time.

A Congressional hearing on the matter has been scheduled for late June.

*Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.