INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — The buzzing from Richard Bettencourt's beehive farm is music to his ears, and he's wants to hear more of it.
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Bettencourt started "Papa B's Honey" three years ago after he saw a decline in seasonal bee populations coming and going.
“The commercial groups will bring the bees to pollinate in California, up north to pollinate apples, they travel them all around, so the commercial guys take them all of those bees out of here,” Bettencourt explained.
He went on to explain that most of your favorite locally grown fruits and vegetable need bees, and farms with hives tend to see an increase from 20-30 percent crop production.
“Most of the delicious foods we like to eat, lots of your fruits, quite a bit of vegetables, mostly your tree fruits, nuts, and all those are pollinated by bees,” Bettencourt explains.
A standard hive can produce about 15 gallons of honey each year. That amount can vary depending on what's blooming and in season, like cabbage palm, pepper trees, orange blossoms, the occasional mangrove and more.
Recently, Bettencourt provided area farmers and bee lovers the chance to sponsor a hive and decorate it. He says spreading out hives all over the state will help the population and pollinate plants within a few mile radii.
“Everything is being pollinated in between and the farmers who have the hives on their property they are really getting the benefit because they are right there next to what they are growing," Bettencourt said. "Even the fruits and vegetables in your garden, as long as you have them close, they are going to pollinate and you'll have a much better crop."
If they buzz off, however, the price of fruits and vegetables will go up, and fresh honey will no longer be available at your local farmer's market. According to the Bee Informed Partnership, a nonprofit that studies bees and bee populations, this past winter almost 18 percent of bee colonies in Florida were lost.
In addition, cold weather isn't the only threat to bee populations, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. They also face colony collapse disorder, pesticides, and loss of habitat.