Summer heat wave, drought affecting bees

POSTED: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 4:48pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 5:39pm

This summer heat has taken a toll on even the bees in east Texas.

Beekeepers say it is affecting honey production and their life span. One beekeeper we spoke with says the bee biz is a fun hobby.

But this summer's excessive heat and lack of rain has sucked a lot of the enjoyment right out.

"We've had droughts and tough years in the past but nothing this bad," said Dick Counts of East Texas Beekeepers Association.

Counts has been into bees for about 36 years. He says this year has been harder than any he can remember.

"No rain, no flowers, no honey. Without honey, the bees cannot produce their young to propagate themselves and to continue," Counts said.

The drought has affected the life and growth of flowers, where the bees get their nectar and pollen.

If they can't get the nectar and pollen, they can't produce honey, which they need to survive.

"Last year I made 150 gallons," Counts said. "This year, I made 30."

Since the bees are working overtime, and unsuccessfully at that, it's just too much too take.

"The bees' nature is to work and find nectar," Counts said. "So they will be flying a long ways looking for some source of food, and that wears and tears on them when they normally live six weeks this time of year anyway."

The only thing left for Counts to do is to try and nourish the bees himself with sugar water, but that doesn't produce the good honey that he would sell for people to eat.

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