El Paso bees put to work in California due to colony collapse disorder
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 06:38:26 PM CST
A devastating loss in bee population is affecting crops in California.
In a scramble to attract more bees, potentially saving crops, farmers are turning to far away sources, including El Paso, for help pollinating their crops.
Colony collapse disorder first began showing up in the United States in the early 2000s, but only in small pockets. In recent years it has overtaken large portions of the bee population. California is the hardest-hit region.
Bees are responsible for 80 percent of pollination. Some plants, like almond trees, rely almost entirely on bees to pollinate. Without the help of bees, the trees cannot produce fruit.
"If it wasn't for this kind of pollination from all across the country, food would become a lot more expensive than it is right now," said Lorenso Ceballos Jr., owner of Buzzbee Honey Company.
Ceballos has become part of the family business, the Ceballos Bee Farm, that was started by his grandfather nearly 40 years ago.
This year the Ceballos family loaded dozens of hives onto a semi-truck and sent them to California to help with the struggling crops there. The roughly 50 million bees are taken by truck surrounded by netting that is stapled down. The trucks are unable to stop during the day to ensure the bees remain inside their hives, only stopping during the evening while bees sleep to refuel.
According to Ceballos, colony collapse disorder hasn't struck his farm. It's good news since the drought has given him enough challenges; less water means less flowering plants.
Colony collapse disorder is relatively unknown. It's believed to be tied to either a mite, or possibly toxins used to spray on crops. Essentially, bees get sick and leave their hive to die alone.
"If one or two, even 10, in the space of a day do that, everything is perfectly okay," said Ceballos. "But colony collapse is the mass exodus of those bees."
With Ceballos Bee Farm's bees busily buzzing in California, there is hope that the lack of bees in California won't effect this year's crops. Other media reports indicate that similar-sized bee farms have also pitched in to help supply the area with bees.
In the meantime, a smaller group of hives remains in Fabens preparing for the next honey harvest. In the coming weeks 50 million bees will once again be loaded onto trucks, this time in California. They'll be shipped back home, where they'll begin pollinating plants and trees in the Borderland, in addition to producing honey and wax for the local Buzzbee Honey Company.
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