Wash. keepers report spike in bee deaths

Credit: KING

Wash. keepers report spike in bee deaths

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

kgw.com

Posted on April 15, 2013 at 11:31 AM

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash.  Mark Emrich sold 300 pounds of honey last year from his farm south of Olympia.

He thinks he'll be lucky to sell half of that this year.

“I operated 15 hives going into this fall,” Emrich said. “I have seven live hives now.”

Emrich blames a chemical found in pesticides called neonicotinoids. And he’s not alone.

Beekeepers around the world have blamed the chemicals for causing an increase in bee deaths around the country.

The pesticide companies disagree, but the beekeepers have the support of Thurston County’s Commissioners.

“We’re very interested in a viable agriculture industry in Thurston County,” said Commissioner Sandra Romero.

She and her colleagues sent the state’s Agriculture Department a letter asking for an investigation into the chemicals, and possible restrictions on sales.

“Those two things could go a long way, I believe, to bringing back our healthy bees,” said Romero.

The state has 60 days to investigate the claim.

Emrich said solving the problem would not only help his honey sales.

“Over 30 percent of the food that hits your plate is directly impacted by a honeybee,” said Emrich.

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