The state apiarist is cautiously optimistic bee hive mortality rates will fall next year across the commonwealth. Part of the solution may be simply planting more flowers.
June is national pollinator month and many Kentucky beekeepers are harvesting honey from their hives. Kentucky Apiarist Tammy Horn Potter says herbicides, mites, heat, and drought can all take a toll on bee colonies. She says the late snow in April didn’t help matters.
“That impacts flowers. That impacts nectar. That impacts pollen availability. It impacts our queens. You know, our queens aren’t going to lay brood, or they are not going to lay eggs if there is no pollen coming into the hives, said Potter.
The state apiarist says crops and grass reduce the land available for the flowering plants the bees depend on. Planting flowers is a good counter point to other crops, like corn, that aren’t likely to decline anytime soon. “We’re the bourbon capital of the world. We’re not going to quit growing corn. But, what we can do is start growing more flowers to offset that. We can start changing when we apply certain types of chemicals,” said Potter.
Potter says hive mortality across Kentucky went down last year, but has inched back up. She says the commonwealth is conservatively home to some 2,000 beekeepers and about 10,000 hives.