Harsh winter has beekeepers buzzing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Harsh winter has beekeepers buzzing

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A harsh winter has left many eastern Iowa beekeepers with fewer bees. Bill Johnson has been a beekeeper for 25 years. He said this is the worst winter he has had.

"Every hobbyist that I talked to lost 100%. It was just devastating in northern Iowa," Johnson said Saturday.

This year there was no winter thaw, which meant bees couldn't move around to eat because it was too cold. The cold weather meant bees were stuck eating straight above themselves this whole winter.

"So you could have 40 to 50 pounds of honey in a beehive and still have that beehive starve to death because we didn't get a warm spell for them to move sideways in the hive," Johnson said.

Johnson said he lost 90% of his bees this winter, but he said he is still optimistic for a good season.

"We will rebuild. We will get back to where we were. It's a struggle, but we aren't going to quit the honey business because we are going to work around it and come back," Johnson said.

Johnson said another big concern for beekeepers is pesticides and chemicals used on yards. He said many house bees in areas where pesticides aren't used to help protect their bees.

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