CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nearly 1,000 West Virginia beekeepers are beginning to reap the benefits of $200,000 in funding authorized last year by the state legislature to help the apiary industry recover from drought- and freeze-related losses last year.
In late December, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s apiary program began distributing three tanker trucks, or 120,000 pounds, of corn syrup to be used as a supplemental feed source for bee colonies this winter.
The funding will also be used to help beekeepers purchase packaged bees to replace the ones that died from starvation last year, and to provide medication that will protect colonies from mite infestations.
Commercial honeybees are critical for pollination within West Virginia because bees pollinate some of the state’s most important trees, including tulip poplar, the most common timber in the state, and black cherry, the most expensive.
Wild bees cannot do the job because their numbers were decimated in the late 1980s by mites and disease, problems that still persist without the medicine and management programs the West Virginia Department of Agriculture provides to commercial bee colonies.
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