CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Around B. Keith Councell's bee hives, if you listen closely, you can hear the faint buzz. Bee experts around the country just wish they could understand what these insects are saying. "We have serious problems with our bees in Florida and the whole United States and the rest of the world," said Councell, found of the Beekeepers Association of SWFL.
The bee population is dropping, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, by around 30% each year. The question is why? "It's not just one things that's causing the decline in honeybees," Councell said. "We have more parasites today than ever before. We have weaker bees due to chemicals. Our bees are basically starving."
Almost all crops depend on bees, especially almonds. But the Agricultural Department said that as more bees die that means less pollination and higher costs for pollination services, ultimately, stinging consumers at the grocery store.
"Eventually, we are going to start seeing higher prices on produce, not just produce produced here in the U.S. but produce all over the world," Councell said.
Councell. Vice Chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation's Apiculture Advisory Committee is part of a nationwide effort to prevent all this. Friday, he'll brainstorm with experts from agricultural industries across the country. Then, they'll ask federal lawmakers to step in. "We have to get the word to Congress," Councell said. "The bees are our canary. They are singing to us and they are saying we've got to do something."
The Florida State Beekeepers Association is asking lawmakers for $3.5 million to build a new honey bee research facility at the University of Florida. With that, they hope to provide Congress with real-time information on bee problems directly affecting Florida.