Farmers "bee"-lieve these tiny insects are a vital key to a good - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Farmers "bee"-lieve these tiny insects are a vital key to a good crop

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MONTROSE (WJRT) - (05/20/14) - Trees are sprouting their leaves, along with many blossoms and blooms. Those flowers are the key to Michigan's multi-million dollar fruit industry.

One key ingredient to make that industry has been hard to come by lately, making this a stressful time of year for Mid-Michigan fruit growers.

They need their trees to blossom at just the right time, the frost to stay away, and bees - millions of them. In order for people to enjoy an apple this fall, it takes bees - lots of bees.

"The key here is to keep up enough hives, on an acre basis, to help assist with our pollination," said Dan Hill, owner of Montrose Orchards.

Colony collapse has been in the news for the past few years. Disease from tiny mites have caused many hives to die.

Without enough wild bees, domesticated bees have been substituted, as researchers race to find a cure.

"Our local beekeepers have been very generous, they've been good to work with and they keep replenishing their stock and keep working and diligently finding solutions to the problems," Hill said.

But, nature has an interesting way of compensating for the loss of so many honeybees, so vital to the pollination of our crops.

"We're also seeing some of the wild bee population, not so much returning as changing. We're seeing more bumblebee activity. And we saw some earlier today looking right in the apple trees. They're actually doing some of the job the honeybees used to do," Hill said.

The import of bees from other parts of the country has become a big business, one that offers hope for farmers who depend on these busy insects to make sure their crops thrive for generations to come.
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