Smoky air makes bees more aggressive

Local bee keepers say the smoke is even resulting in less honey production. KREM 2's Amanda Roley has more from the experts.

SPOKANE, Wash. – The smoke is not just affecting humans. It turns out it is causing bees to be more aggressive.

The Inland Empire Beekeepers Association is set up at the Spokane County Fair and they are ready for you to come buy some of their local honey. If you are wondering why supplies look a bit low, it is because all this smoke in the area is not making the bees happy.

"Every single one of them I opened up were not happy, they were angry," said beekeeper Jerry Tate.

Tate said the smoke is limiting bee activity and causing them to stay close to home.

"When I went out to look at the bees, they were all clustered on the front of their hive. There were no bees flying. In the middle of the day between 12 and 3 o'clock, bees are always out flying," said Tate.

The bees are exposed to smoke when beekeepers use it to collect their honey.

"The first thing a bee does when we smoke them with a smoker is they duck their head down and go grab some honey like they're going to escape. So it causes them to go into defensive mode," said Tate.

But this extended exposure to smoke is affecting the bees' natural process of making honey.

"They're thinking there's a forest fire or something that's going to endanger their home. Therefore, they have to be ready to evacuate. And they constantly sit there ready to evacuate 24/7," Tate explained.

While the bees stay in defense mode, they're eating and because of this they have already started consuming their winter storage.

"So that's not a good thing. We're desperate for rain. Normally in Spokane we have a good honey flow through the month of July and early August. The honey flow was way, way down. We probably got half of our production," Tate said.

All beekeepers can do now is collect what little surplus honey they can and feed the bees to fatten up for winter.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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