Beekeepers closely watch population, productivity

Business Ann Arbor Miller · ·

1 Jeff Anderson, owner of California & Minnesota Honey Farms in Eagle Bend, Minn., said his honey production is about half of what peak production was a decade ago. The source of the decline is unknown. 
2 July is a busy time for beekeepers throughout Minnesota. However, honey bees like these found in a bee yard near Eagle Bend, Minn., are producing less honey compared to 10 years ago. 
3 Beekeeper Kyle Anderson holds a frame in one hand while checking on honey bees in a yard near Eagle Bend, Minn., on Monday, July 11, 2011. The Anderson family has been in the honey and pollination business for decades. Millions of honey bees across the nation have died due to colony collapse disorder, which has no conclusive source. 
4 Beekeeper Jeff Anderson holds two frames from two different hives to show the difference in bee productivity. The frame on the left features a less consistent pattern with many skipped cells. The center area - in particular - of the frame on the right features a solid pattern with few skipped cells, which is what beekeepers expect and want to see. 
5 Beekeeper Kyle Anderson unloads hives in a bee yard near Eagle Bend, Minn., on Monday, July 11, 2011. His dad, Jeff Anderson, has 35 years of experience as a beekeeper and is also a member of the National National Honey Bee Advisory Board which provides bee industry input to federal regulators and researchers. The Andersons are checking on their bees more frequently and are dealing with dying hives on a regular basis. 
6 July is a busy time for beekeepers throughout Minnesota. However, honey bees residing in these hives found in a bee yard near Eagle Bend, Minn., are producing less honey compared to 10 years ago. 
7 Beekeeper Peter Hansen finds an unusual seat in a bee yard with colleagues near Eagle Bend, Minn., on Monday, July 11, 2011. Honey bees in Minnesota and across the nation are producing less honey compared to 10 years ago. 
8 Beekeeper Jeff Anderson, owner of California & Minnesota Honey Farms in Eagle Bend, Minn., gets his smoker going before checking on honey bees in a yard near Eagle Bend, Minn., on Monday, July 11, 2011. The smoke helps calm the bees. 
9 Beekeeper Jeff Anderson says each year, he loses about half of his honey bee hives. While scientists think the cause might be a combination of pesticides, parasites and disease, Anderson knows he has fewer bees and less honey each year. 
10 A frame from a honey bee hive show a less consistent pattern with many skipped cells. This is not ideal for honey production or indicative of a healthy colony, according to beekeeper Jeff Anderson, who owns California & Minnesota Honey Farms in Eagle Bend, Minn. 
11 A frame from a honey bee hive shows a more consistent pattern with few skipped cells. This is ideal for honey production and indicative of a healthy colony, according to beekeeper Jeff Anderson, who owns California & Minnesota Honey Farms in Eagle Bend, Minn.