Tioga County honeybee farm impacted by federal budget cuts

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BERKSHIRE (WBNG) — Beekeepers are working harder than ever to manage their colonies, as the population continues to die at rapid rates across the country.

“Basically, I’ve got another year of loss and we need to just keep rebuilding back and splitting our colonies,” Bob Finch of the Berkshire Hills Honey Bee Farm told 12 News on Wednesday.

At Berkshire Hills, there are hundreds of bee colonies. But each year they’re faced with significant loss, which can be difficult to restock.

“It is a struggle because you hate to see the devastation, the loss. You have to be able to put up with loss and grief of thousands of bees.”

Related: Survey sees biggest US honeybee winter die-off yet

This year, the decline in the bee population is even more alarming.

“40.7 percent this year nationally, which is the highest loss since 2006,” said Finch.

Finch says his honeybee farm lost even more than the national average.

“We lost 50 percent, which is not good at all,” he said. “[The] past years I’ve lost up to 75 percent of my colonies.”

In the past Finch relied on studies on honeybee colonies to help his bees, but new budget cuts by the Trump Administration are pushing the USDA to suspend data collection.

Related: Honeybees hit by Trump budget cuts

“For the government to pull funding for bee research touches me pretty deeply,” Finch said. “It’s not a good thing.”

For Finch, it means losses to his colonies could remain a mystery.

“There’s a lot of unknown, too. That’s why the research is so important and to have that gone or pulled is very concerning.”

This is the third bee-related data set to be suspended under the current administration. The USDA says the suspension of the survey is only temporary.

Chloe Vincente

Chloe Vincente

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