High Pollen Counts Have Bee Keepers Buzzing with Excitement

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -- Allergy season can really take a toll on some folks and this spring is proving to be a good one.  While most folks are watching for reports of low pollen counts for relief, one Region 8 business buzzes with excitement when the numbers climb.

Take a look up close and you might be surprised...the pollen that gives us so much trouble with our allergies is actually bright and colorful.

"Some people take that as a health supplement; some people think it helps their allergies. Of course the bees use it as a protein source and there will be some pollens that people may have some allergies to," said beekeeper Steve Culp.

Thousands of honey bees on Culp's farm are swarming back to their hives, carrying pollen.

"The typical hive at the peak of the summer will have 50,000-60,000 bees in it. This time of year they will be a lot lower, maybe 20,000-40,000, but they will build up and that's like one big family. They all have one mother," said Culp.

Culp says that the bees bring back more pollen during the months of mid-April and June. So much that they have to harvest the hives every couple of days.

"Fuel cost and the cost of feed have really gone up astronomically and most of the commercial beekeepers, the majority of their crop is coming from pollinate, they are shipping bees to be pollinated," said Culp, "Many of them are actually selling honey at cost or below cost of production."

About 1/3 of all the food we eat is pollinated by honey bees.

"People send bees to California in the months of January through March to pollinate almonds, that's a really big crop," said Culp, "And they say half to 60% of all the bees in the U.S. will be in California during that time."

And if you are wondering about the sweet stuff...One bee will make 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime and most hives will make between 60-100 lbs.