PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For many of us, bees are something to avoid; but for the agricultural community, bees are all about success or failure of their crops.
To the farmer or grower, an active bee hive ready to mass pollinate is a thing of beauty.
“Every flower needs it, so every piece of fruit needs a bee to get to it,” says Reed Soergel, of Soergel’s Orchards. “So, to the crop, it’s huge.”
But bees in Pennsylvania are dying at an alarming rate.
“About 60 percent of colonies dying off here in our state,” says Stephen Riccardi, of Penn Environment.
“It’s getting into a situation where we’re going to start running out of food,” said Kevin Hermman, the executive chef at The Porch at Schenley.
Hermman has four hives on the roof of his Oakland restaurant to pollinate his herb and vegetable gardens.
“I’ve had hives die because of infestations or pesticides, different diseases,” Hermman said.
Riccardi says one answer is for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban neonics pesticides as Europe did.
“Since then we’ve started to see colonies in that part of the world bounce back,” Riccardi said.
Penn Environment wants to ban neonics completely, but over at Soergel’s Orchards, they have a different perspective.
“Some of these pesticides that they are trying to take off are so much safer to man than any of the older pesticides,” Reed Soergel says.
But he’s sympathetic to the bee issue.
“Usually, I rent bees to come in, [but] I’m running out of sources to be able to do it,” Soergel says.
But Soergel believes the answer is better education.
“Teaching the growers that this product or a certain product is only good at a certain time when there’s no bee… if there’s no contamination, it shouldn’t make any difference,” Soergel says.
But Penn Environment says that’s a chance the bees can’t take, and the EPA needs to act.
“It’s something that we can’t continue to wait more and more years to really address,” Riccardi says.