Environment

Wet weather boosting California bee populations

More flowers means less competition

Bee population increasing

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - After five of the driest years on record in California, the state's bee population fell drastically. In 2015, the state's beekeepers lost 40 percent of their hives.

However a wet winter has prompted some of the largest blooms of flowers across the state in decades, and local beekeepers are excited to see what this means for the return of their hives.

San Luis Obispo County beekeeper Sue Halsmann says ever since California's drought rocked her bee population, she has been doing the rain dance, and this year it finally paid off. 

"This weather is wonderful for bees," said Halsmann. "This weather is glorious."

The colonies on her property outside Paso Robles felt the sting of drought for five years. Bee populations across the country have been declining rapidly. In 2015, the state had lost 40% of it's bee population. 

"I had to feed the bees sugar water last year just to avoid starvation, and it just makes me sick," said Halsmann. 

Less water means fewer flower. However, a recent super bloom of flower is moving up the state, and can be seen locally outside Lompoc, in Santa Barbara, and most prominently at Carrizo Plains National Monument. More flowers means less competition for bees. 

"This year we have a record honey flow, and I couldn't be happier," says Halsmann. 

"I wish we could have rain like this every winter," said Anna Rempel, president of the Central Coast Beekeepers Alliance of San Luis Obispo County. She says everyone can do their part to keep bee populations increasing.

"What gardeners can do is plant flowers that can carry them (bees, pollinators) through the mid-summer onward."

Bees are vitally important to farming communities like those here on the Central Coast. 

"We do a lot of outreach and community service to try and teach kids how important bees are to the agriculture communities that we live in, and without the, things would be tough."

 

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