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Where have all the bees gone? Beekeepers have lost an alarming 44% of their colonies already

Posted at 5:46 PM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 17:57:57-04

Every day Emily Mueller snatches up unwanted beehives from peoples homes through her hive removal business, and nurtures them as a beekeeper. 

"That's why we started our business to rescues honeybees, to bring up their populations, to bring up their numbers," Mueller said. 

Joining the industry just four years ago, she's already seen the impact of the declining species. 

"I'm getting into beekeeping at a time when it's going downhill quickly." 

Bethany Majeski a naturalist and expert with the Metroparks' Rocky River Nature Center tells me Mueller is not alone. 

"The one thing about beekeeping is that it can be a little frustrating because there are so many problems...you go out one day and your hive is just gone, bees are gone," she said. 

This year so far, beekeepers have lost an alarming 44% of their colonies already. 

"Even though we see them maybe as insignificant or at worst maybe we see them as a threat, and fear they might sting us, we're actually incredibly dependent on them," Majeski said. 

Pollinating 75 percent of fruits and veggies grown in the US  and 70 different crops in Ohio, according to the USDA, not having them, could leave a more than $15 billion economic shortfall to the agricultural industry. 

"Bees are incredibly important insects. The loss of bees would be nothing short of devastating for us truly," said Majeski. 

So why are they all dying off? The answer that question is more complicated than it seems. 

"Some big players include pesticide use, as well as habitat loss, so loss of the plants that they would find out in the wild," Majeski explained. 

Others say bees are mating at the rates than they used to, but whatever the case, Mueller told me if something's not done, she fears the worst could come to pass. 

"We have to have honey bees or we're all going to die" 

One of the solutions to the problem experts say is for people to start their own backyard beekeeping and growing native plants at home encouraging the busy bees to get to work and eventually multiply.