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Digging Deeper: How you can help conserve the bee population for years to come

Eau Claire (WQOW) – Pollinators are an important part of our everyday lives. Whether we realize it or not, they’re responsible for the health and growth of food.

However in recent years, researchers worry the population of many pollinators has been declining across the nation and it is having an impact on the food we eat.

UW-Stout Biology Professor Jim Burritt

Bees, a common insect and master pollinator across the globe, have been threatened by our evolving world.

“Often somewhere around 70% to 80% of our hives are lost every year,” said UW-Stout Biology Professor Jim Burritt.

The impact will directly affect our food supply.


Scientists claim roughly one out of every three bites of sustenance is there because of pollinators.

“Really when you think about all the flowering plants that exist on our planet and the need to have pollen moved from one flower to another for genetic diversity, these pollinators are really important,” Burritt said.

Bees busy at work making honey

Burritt has been studying pollinators for years and said there are multiple factors leading to their demise. “A lot of pesticide application worldwide, like a billion pounds a year,” Burritt said. “It’s amazing to me not that our bees are sick, but that we have any bees left at this point.”

As the number of bees decline, so does the important work they do. Bees carry important nutrients not only to the hive, but from flower to flower as well, and eventually to our table. The declining honeybee population has many organizations working to help.

Corey Grotte, Chippewa Valley Beekeepers Association

Corey Grotte, a member of the Chippewa Valley Beekeeping Organization, has a few hives of his own. Six in fact, all simply earning their keep.

“You’ll see how easy it is to keep bees, how you’re helping the environment with pollination,” Grotte said. “Bees are very important to the world because they pollinate 75% of what we eat. So, it takes a whole colony to build a future for America.”

Grotte claims maintaining bees is easy, but beekeeping is not for everybody. So, what can you do to help?

“Something as simple as planting a garden or flower pots. The variety of nectar and pollen out there is great for honeybees and all pollinators,” Grotte said.

Paula Bonnin, Master Gardener

Master Gardeners of Eau Claire plant their annuals specifically for pollinators.

Paula Bonnin puts in a number of different types of pollinator-friendly plants all across her yard.

“Bees love allium, and sunflowers. Sunflowers are huge,” Bonnin said. “The biggest pollinator is the sunflower. If you live in an apartment or have a small garden, you can still plant.”

“If we don’t have pollinators, we don’t have food,” Bonnin said. “Pollinators are what give us our fruits and vegetables.”

If you’re interested in starting a hive, you can take classes at the Chippewa Valley Technical College or reach out to the Chippewa Valley Beekeepers Association at the links below:

Link: CVTC Beekeeping Classes

Link: Chippewa Valley Beekeepers Association

If you’re looking for gardening tips or have questions on what to plant, you can contact the Master Gardeners of Eau Claire on their Facebook page, here.

Justin Esterly

Justin Esterly is our Daybreak meteorologist. Justin joined WQOW News 18 in May 2018.

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