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Decline of Honey Bees Means Higher Prices at Grocery Stores – Channel 8 Interview June 25, 2014

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) –Your favorite produce could get pricier as the number of honeybees declines drastically across the nation. Honey bees are vital insects, and not just for their honey.

“We’ve actually built our agriculture around using the honeybees as pollinators,” said Robert Wokaty, a beekeeper and president of the Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers Association.

One-third of the food on your dinner table depends on them, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture says their hard work pays off.

“The honeybee pollination attributes to about $110 million to the Virginia economy,” said Keith Tignor with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

But honey bees face more and more threats including disease, parasites, pesticides and habitat destruction.

“Our annual loss over the winter is at about 30 percent,” said Tignor.

If the population continues to drop, food sold at groceries stores– like blueberries, avocados, cucumbers and almonds– may become limited or disappear altogether.

“That means we’re going to have lower production, we’re going to have less quality fruit, and so it’s going to affect the nutrition as well as the price at the market is going to be going up because of the lack of availability of food in some cases,” said Tignor.

Local beekeepers like Rob Wokaty are doing their part to make sure that never happens, caring for 10 hives in his backyard.

“We actually try to breed honeybees that are resistant to these environmental factors such as mites and diseases and so we’ll actually collect bees or take them out of houses. And I’ll pull the genetics in and take a look at the bees and make sure they’re healthy, and if they are healthy I’ll breed those and then make them available to members of the club,” said Wokaty.

The Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers Association is hosting its annual Honey Bee Festival on Saturday in Chesterfield.

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