54ºF

Millions of bees dead due to wild winter weather

One apiarist has lost more than one million bees this winter

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – Mark Chorba has kept bees the New River Valley for more than 20 years and has never experienced a loss quite like this.

“This is the first year that I have lost everything like this here,” said Chorba.

One of his 25 hives alone used to hold more than 80,000 bees.

In total he has lost more than one million bees.

The insects could not handle the big fluctuations of cold and warm, weather in our area in the past few months. 

“When the temperatures drop below 50 in our area, they can't move and get stranded and get stuck where they are until spring,” Chorba said. “When they can't get warm they perish.”

Chorba not only distributes honey locally, but he sells bees to many all over the country.

One out of three fruits and vegetables, if not more, is pollinated by bees. Chorba said if we lose the bees, we lose all pollination. 

“Well this year nobody is getting bees from me, I normally sell anywhere between 100 and 200 colonies each spring. This year there won't be any to sell.”

The New River Valley Bee Association has 200 members.It started this fall with 581 hives and now only about 200 have survived.

Many beekeepers will have to rebuild.

“I'll regroup again and before I know it I’ll be back hopefully within a year,” said Chorba.