Beekeepers Gather In Clemson - WSPA.com

Beekeepers Gather In Clemson

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The Upstate is buzzing with beekeepers this week. The South Carolina Beekeepers Association is gathering at Clemson University to talk about beekeeping, and the challenges they face.

Bill Grayson is President-Elect of the SC Beekeepers Association.

"We're losing bees right and left," Grayson said. "We're still trying to figure out why."

Colony Collapse Disorder is one of the big worries. That's because bees are pollinators and a big part of the food chain.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it's a problem across the country. The USDA says in the 1940's, he U.S. had about 5 million honey bee colonies. Today - it's less than half that number at about 2.5 million.

"If you could imagine losing 35-40 percent of our food source, without bees, that's exactly what would happen," Grayson explained.

"If you like to eat, then you need for there to be bees in the world," said Mell Wallace a beekeeper from Laurens.

Wallace explains, it's the backyard beekeepers who are so important. "We need to increase the number of small scale bee keepers, hobbyists, back yard bee keepers in order to increase the population of bees," Wallace said.

Experts at Clemson University estimate there are three thousand beekeepers across the state. Together, they manage as many as 30 thousand honey bee colonies.

Conferences like this one encourage beekeepers to check out the latest products and learn new techniques. The conference continues through Saturday. 

Wallace explains, it's a hobby that helps us all. "It gives back to the community."

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