Truck crash highlights the demand of getting bees to Maine | News

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Truck crash highlights the demand of getting bees to Maine

DEBLOIS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Millions of honey bees headed for Maine were left in a state of flux this week after a tractor trailer carrying them crashed on I-95 just south of Wilmington, Delaware.

While the bees did swarm, handlers were called in quickly to help contain them.

The insects were valuable cargo for many farmers in Maine as the honey bee is used pollinate several of the state's crops, including Maine blueberries. Yet bee experts say in recent years it has become more costly for growers to bring them in.

According to federal studies, for another straight year the number of honey bees in the U.S. is in decline. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says this past winter alone honey bee colonies dropped about 23 percent across the country. That fell on the heels of even more declines that have spanned most of the last decade.

Bee experts say the drops have been caused by a number of things including new pesticides farmers are using, diseases as well as bees disappearing due to colony collapse disorder.

As a result growers of many crops are paying more to get their bees trucked in from out of state. At 'Wymans of Maine' in Deblois staff say the cost for bees has gone up about 30 percent over the last decade.

"If we don't have any bees...we don't have any berries and that's not just blueberries...any kind of berry," said Homer Woodward, who is Wyman's Vice President of Operations.

"As bees get less it's costing the blueberry grower more for bees," said David Hackenberg, who has been raising bees since the 1960s, "it's costing the almond grower more for bees...the apple grower and so when you go to the supermarket you're gonna see those prices inching up."

Wymans is one producer supporting efforts to address the shortage of bees. Each year the company contributes about $50,000 for research in the U.S. and Canada.