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Utah's bee population stabilizes after years of decline

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) - As the spring season rolls in, you may see more buzzing around the state as experts say the bee population is finally stable after years of decline.

"Bee colonies are actually stabilized and even increasing a little bit in Utah especially. We seem to be out-performing nationally just a bit," said Jack Wilbur, spokesperson for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Wilbur said there are currently 40,000 colonies in the state of Utah, including both commercial and private.

Joshua Ashcraft, a local beekeeper said factors such as changing climate/weather, poor nutrition, and pesticides contributed to the decline from past years.

"For the first time in our history, we've put seven bee species on the endangered species list. Over the last 30 years, we've lost about 90 percent of the bees," said Ashcraft.

He said when our bees are in danger, it affects things we depend on every day.

"Bees provide 1/3 of the food you get from the grocery store and 1/4 of the clothing you wear," said Ashcraft. "Just imagine walking to the grocery store and seeing most of the produce gone."

Wilbur and Ashcraft provided the following tips to protect Utah's bee population:

- Plant your garden with bee-friendly plants
- If you choose to use pesticides, use it as directed
- Don't spray flowering plants. If you do, wait until after sunset
- Don't remove dandelions as they're a great feeding source for bees
- If you see bees swarming around your house, don't panic and don't spray them. Call your local beekeeper to come remove it for you.

"While it looks really intimidating, they're actually at their most docile because most of the time, they have no hive to protect, they have no honey, they have no eggs," said Ashcraft. "Right now, they're just kind of looking for a new house and they don't want to be bothered, they can't be bothered with attacking anyone."

For more information, visit the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food's website.


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