Local beekeeper provides insight into Cape Town’s dwindling bee population

HYANNIS — A local beekeeper says one way to deal with the dwindling honey bee population on the Cape is for residents to change the way they maintain their lawns and outdoor spaces.

Barnstable County Beekeepers Association Secretary Claire Desilets commented on the lack of foraging or sources of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators native to the area.

“What we need are people getting their lawns green, planting clover or letting dandelions grow, or just planting lots of perennials,” Desilets said.

The beekeeper said these measures were helpful, but admitted that some non-native plants are also good sources of pollen.

Citing a survey, Desilets said Cape Town’s losses in its bee population coincided with declines across the country, with annual national losses of between 35 and 45 percent.

The Barnstable County Beekeepers Association is made up of over 400 Cape beekeeping families. Desilets says regional interest in keeping bees alive is significant since insects are essential food sources.

“The literature says that every third bite we take of food requires some form of pollination and bees are one of the main insects providing this source,” she said.

Although Cape bees face the challenges of exposure to pesticides, harsh weather and lack of nectar, Desilets said the biggest concern is a parasitic mite called Varolla destructor, which lives on the fat of adult bees and multiplies from the brood larva. .

To combat the mite, Desilets shared that beekeepers need to be careful in how they deal with the problem since honey is a food product. She recommended using the proper dosage of safe organic acids.

Learn more on the Barnstable County Beekeepers Association website.

By Brian Engles, CapeCod.com NewsCenter.

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