Beekeepers endure mites, drought, hard times
2002-22-09 - LINDA BREWER, Arizona Daily Star - http://www.zwire.com
TUCSON (AP) - Desert flowers make good honey, and beehives by the thousands used to dot open land in Southern Arizona. In recent years, however, a combination of factors has caused many beekeepers to rethink their dedication to this difficult way of life
Jim Hawk of Southwest Bee Supply provides beekeeping equipment to people throughout the region. "Ten years ago I had 700 beekeepers on my mailing list," Hawk said. "Now it's more like 50."
Hawk attributes the reduction in beekeeping to drought conditions and verroa mites, parasitic mites that suffocate bees and decimate colonies. Hawk added that many of the hobbyists he had as customers gave up beekeeping because of fears about Africanized "killer" bees. And cheap, imported honey has hurt Arizonans in beekeeping as a business.
"The ones who have stayed on have large enough operations to move their bees around for pollination services," Hawk said. "That's where the money is now. There's no money in honey."
Third-generation Arivaca beekeeper Ed Stockwell recently downsized his beekeeping business and took a desk job.
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