Central Texas Bee Keepers Concerned for Industry

By  | 

KILLEEN (November 10, 2012)--Beekeepers are concerned for their industry due to bee diseases, misconceptions and a decline of beekeepers.

Texas is in the top 10 states for honey production, but local beekeepers say the industry as a whole has had some hard hits.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, nearly 1/3 of U.S. food is made possible through honey bees' hard work of pollination, helping flowers and plants reproduce.

That's over $500 million dollars in bee pollination value by just Texas beekeepers alone.

But local beekeepers are concerned there won't be as much of a variety of food around if there continues to be a decline in beekeepers.

"The average age of beekeepers is well into the 60s, and only 8% of beekeepers are under 41 years old," said Blake Shook, Texas Beekeepers Association vice president.

In order to get the younger generation ready to take on the bee business, "Honey Queens and Princesses" come to the rescue.

Honey Queens and Princesses are chosen by local beekeepers to represent their local, state and even national communities to educate the public about bees and the beekeeping industry.

The ladies are also given supplies and a mentor to help with beekeeping.

"It's a great opportunity to learn, but you have someone there helping you that are more knowledgeable than you," said Leslie Tucker, Williamson County Area Honey Bee.

But beekeepers and those in the industry say even that's not enough.

That's why they've gathered in Killeen this weekend to spread the buzz about their concerns and ideas.

"We have to look at things like new pests that have come into the state, diseases, rules and regulations that would harm or help beekeepers and the weather condition," said Shook.

Beekeepers say the decline in the bee business is also due to misconceptions.

"People will get bees in their yards and the first thing they want to do is poison them, or they'll have bees on their flowers and they'll want to get rid of them," said local beekeeper Stephen Gardipee.

There are about 200,000 beekeepers in the United States.