Migratory Beekeepers Worry About Their Livelihood

Migratory Beekeepers Worry About Their Livelihood
BENTON CITY-- Cherry and apple seasons are approaching, and Washington farmers are looking to migratory beekeepers to pollinate their crops.

As the bee population rapidly decline in nature, beekeepers are traveling from state to state, where their bees pollinate seasonal crops before moving on.

"Einstein's theory-- it's been, oh, a couple years ago-- was that within about four years, there would be no more food to sustain life anywhere on the planet, to pollinate orchards, pollinate everything out there," said Daniel McLaury, a migratory beekeeper from Montana.

Bees may be the fuzzy, buzzing creatures humans try to avoid, but without them, there would be nothing to pollinate our fruit, the plants livestock eat, the cane to make sugar, even coffee.

"Without the bees, there is no life, there is no food to eat," said McLaury. "So we're going to get real hungry really soon without bees."

The beekeepers we need to keep agriculture going, are struggling. They're trying to figure out ways to combat disease, spores and genetic problems, all of which pose a serious threat to the dwindling bee population.

Last year, McLaury's family business lost 70 percent of its bees. Add the rising cost of gas to the equation, and these Montana-based beekeepers can only hope for a break.

"We crash one more time, we're out of business, we're done," said McLaury. "We crashed three years in a row. We can't take a fourth."

The earth's bee population is less than half of what it was 20 years ago. McLaury says there are no more wild hives to pollinate crops. He says the planet losing an essential part of the food chain, which will mean higher prices for the food that is available.

"The only thing that's wild now is if we let a swarm get away," he said. "They're wild for about a year, then they're dead."