GOLD HILL, Ore. — Unhealthy smoke levels are putting already struggling bee colonies at big risk. Beekeepers say unless they take special precautions, they could lose as much as 80% of their livestock.
Experts say honeybees naturally prepare to flee from wildfires. When they see smoke, they stop foraging for food and instead gorge on stores they already have. That survival mechanism can be useful, but experts say this year they haven’t foraged enough food to keep them alive. Instead, they now have to feed the hives manually, which could have a big impact on costs.
“Well it would be a little early to predict, but I would say at least double,” beekeeper John Jacob said.
Experts also say without that feeding, the colonies could die over the winter. That rise in cost could impact fruit growers that rely on beekeeper colonies for pollination next season.