Wild weather leaving Hampton Roads beekeepers in sticky situation

Posted at 11:19 PM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-12 19:06:14-05

JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. – Between the chickens, goats and her soap business, Tasha’s Own, one might say Maureen Anderson is one busy bee.

“Honey is probably one of our main sources of income,” said Anderson.

That’s because she’s also a beekeeper.

The up-and-down weather lately can be a sticky situation for bees.

With roller coaster temperatures, beekeepers expect some of the insects to die off, but this year in particular has been extra challenging.

“We really just had a slam in the last two months of really cold weather, and that cold weather was moist weather,” Anderson said. “We lost four colonies, and it’s interesting because last year, we lost one.”

The loss of four beehives means a stinging loss of roughly 240,000 bees that Anderson says hits her bottom line hard. She said that could amount to losing several thousand dollars.

“It’s detrimental because it’s a really large part of our income, is the sale of raw honey,” said Anderson.

Anderson isn’t alone. Experts say dozens of beekeepers around the state are also struggling.

The loss of bees has a trickle-down effect on our farmers. Some crops, including blueberries and apples, are almost entirely dependent on bees.

“The economy suffers all around if those bees aren’t there to make those particular farms produce more,” Anderson said.

Honeybees are big drivers for the economy.

The FDA said they contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. agriculture each year, not because of the honey they produce, but because of their work to pollinate crops.

When the temps quickly change course again, the buzz is on the honeybees.

“We’re not done,” said Anderson. “This mid-February.”

Related: There’s a buzz growing around backyard beekeeping in James City County