A fourth-generation beekeeping family says it has been decades since they have seen a loss this great.
“We entered this winter with 50 stands and came out this spring with 13. So this is a major loss for us,” said Leighton Hodges, owner and operator of Catawba Valley farms.
Hodges lost about 100,000 honey bees. He is not for sure what the exact cause was, but believes there were multiple factors.
“There is talk of a bacterial virus and they are also saying the really warm February caused the maple trees to bloom. And this caused the queen to start laying and this broke her cluster. Then with the cold of March caused some disarray and confusion,” said Hodges.
Hodges isn't the only beekeeper dealing with loss. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says on average, beekeepers lose 30 percent of managed colonies in a season. This year, that number was more than 59 percent.
"It is a combination of environmental conditions, loss of habitat, pests, and diseases such as Varroa mites, small hive beetles and nosema, pesticides around beehives and other factors affecting the sustainability of honeybees and other insect pollinators," according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
The death of the bees means the loss of almost 2,000 pints of honey. Each pint sells for about $10.
“We have had sacrificed some of our honey production and what we have done is take some of our strong hives and divided and created multiple hives,” said Hodges.