BELVOIR, N.C. (WNCT) — According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, America’s honeybee colonies have collapsed at an average rate of nearly 40% for the past 10 years. It’s thanks to the tireless work of beekeepers like Bobby Yates, that the population is still here.

Bobby Yates of Yates & Bailey Bee Farm has been beekeeping since 1954 at the age of 12. He currently has over 55 hives actively making honey and pollinating the vast garden on his property.

“One-third of the food that you eat from the table, people really don’t realize that is pollinated by bees,” Yates said.

Bees are one of the best pollinators, helping crops from fruits and vegetables to alfalfa and even nuts to thrive and come back year after year.

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That’s why, like many beekeepers across the country, Yates is concerned about the use of neonic pesticides and their detrimental impact on the bee population. Neonics is now the most heavily used class of insecticides in the U.S., applied to an estimated 150 million acres of crops each year.

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In the past year, an alarming 45% of the nation’s honeybee colonies have collapsed, the second-highest loss ever recorded.

Using neonic pesticides can be up to 10,000 times more toxic for bees than DDT. Neonic-treated seeds, used in nearly all conventional corn and 50% of soybean crops, have enough toxic ingredients to kill 250,000 bees with just one seed. Evidence from the Natural Resouces Defense Council shows overuse of these kinds of pesticides can lead to drinking water contamination and even birth defects in humans.

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So how can non-beekeepers help? Stop using harmful pesticides like neonics. And if you see a bee hive on your property, seek the help of a local beekeeper who can safely remove the hive and preserve the colony.

Yates & Bailey Bee Farm is located at 5368 HWY 33 W in Belvoir. Yates frequents local farmers’ markets to sell his honey products, especially the Leroy James Farmer’s Market.

For more information on bees and beekeeping: Home of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association – The North Carolina State Beekeepers Association (ncbeekeepers.org)