Unlike the thousands of Ohio beekeepers who have lost 50 to 80 percent of their honeybees over the harsh winter, Orlen Bates Jr. of O’s Fruit Farm says besides a few disturbances from skunks his four hives are doing just fine.
He credits his success to keeping his hives closed during the winter months. Other bee keepers tend to check on them reducing the hives’ internal temperatures and in turn killing the bees. Bates also remembers the affects that pesticides and weed killers used by his neighbors had on his farm.
"The poisons.. the poisons are just killing everything my bats are gone my bees are gone that was a bad year," said Bates.
Bates says that bees need a balanced diet and a permanent home to flourish, often times bees travel thousands of miles for commercial farming weakening the hives. Bates knows first hand the importance of these tiny creatures.
" Before bee keeping Bates didn’t expect his plants to produce and now his plum trees are expecting an abundance."
Currently bates has two different types of bees at his farm, both Carniolan and Italians to pollinate his plum and peach trees during the spring and hopes to continue multiplying his swarms for many years to come. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture nationwide honey bees pollinate more than $14 billion in crops each year.