Local beekeepers say bee populations are at an all time low

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NELSON COUNTY, Va (NEWSPLEX) -- It's another day at Hungry Hill Farm in Nelson County. Beekeeper Glenn Clayton Jr. is busy digging through beehives.

"I'm looking for the Queen bee," he says, "I've already been through this one once and haven't been able to find her."

Beekeeping isn't the easiest job in the world, but according to Clayton Jr., it's a necessary one.

"If you don't have the bees, or the pollinators, you're not going to have food."

Hungry Hill Farms is a family business, with Gleen Clayton Sr. as the primary owner, and most of his sons working as beekeepers.

"Bees used to be my hobby," said Clayton Sr., "but when I retired in the 80's, I switched to beekeeping full-time."

They say the business has had its ups and downs, but it's never been as bad as it is now.

"In Virginia, the state loss of bee colonies was somewhere around 50 to 60 percent over the winter," said Clayton Sr., "my loss here at Hungry Hill was 79 percent."

Clayton Sr. said some of that can be attributed to the weather or disease, but that many factors are man made.

"Many of the pesticides and lawn care materials that people use contain chemicals that kill bees or their hives," said Clayton Sr.

Both Clayton Sr. and Clayton Jr. stress that without bees, locals wouldn't be able to live the same way they do today.

"Without them you wouldn't have your fruits and vegetables to eat," said Clayton Jr.

"Indirectly, they also effect the meats that we eat by pollinating the grass and wildlife around them," said Clayton Sr.

They say that the only way things will change is if others become more conscious of the problem.

"I'm only one small person," said Clayton Sr., "it takes everybody to try to preserve the bees."

They say an easy way to help out is by planting more wildflowers in the garden. They also suggest switching to natural or organic lawn fertilizers.

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