Bayer Bee Care Tour buzzes into WSU to discuss honeybee health

PULLMAN, WA - With temperatures dipping below freezing, this winter weather has some of us looking forward to spring time.

In preparation for the upcoming planting season, Reporter Rachel Dubrovin tells us about Bayer's Bee Care Tour that educates people on how to help the honey bees thrive.

"The queen bee in all her glory," said Beekeeper, Veldon Sorensen.

Beekeepers from across the nation met at Washington State University on Thursday to talk about the importance of being aware.

"Bees are important to us because it is a part of agriculture," said Sorensen.

"Basically a third of the food we eat right now is directly pollinated by a honey bee, and probably close to half of our food is impacted," said Washington State Beekeepers Association President Mark Emrich.

Of course, a great way to learn about bees is by tasting their honey.

"A lot of different flavors that come on your tongue...," said Sorensen.

Now the honey is actually going to taste different based on what kind of plants the bees pollinates.

"This honey comes from a mint field out in Idaho, and you'll taste a real minty flavor on the back of your tongue," said Sorensen. "This is from my hive in Salt Lake City, Utah. So we have a lot of fruit trees around, a lot of fruit trees around. A lot of wild flowers, so if you're a wine connoisseur, you'll say, 'Wow. Huge bouquet.'"

But beekeeping isn't always a sweet deal, Beekeepers have to worry about things like pesticides.

"There are pesticides out there, and they're labeled 'Will Kill all problem pests,'" said Emrich. "Well they kill the whole line of flying insects."

And on the Palouse, there's a shortage of flowers for bees to forage.

"We grow a lot of small grains and things without irrigation, but none of those provide food for bees," said WSU Professor of Entomology, Walter Sheppard.

Beekeepers said if you want to help the honeybees, plant flowers and be careful about when and where you use pesticides.

"Read the label and be aware of when you spray to not spray the field edges to leave the wildflowers," said Sorensen.

The varroa mite is another major threat to the honeybee population, It's a deadly parasite that latches onto individual bees and can wipe out entire colonies.