Water-Related News

Experts point to red tide, blue-green algae for some problems in SWFL's bee population

It's not only the critters that live in the Gulf's waters and the area's freshwater canals and rivers that are feeling the effects of Southwest Florida's algae problems.

Local honey bee experts say they started seeing problems a little more than a month ago in hives around areas affected by red tide and blue-green algae.

"It's weakened them, more than anything," said Keith Councell, vice president of the Lee County Farm Bureau and owner of Councell Farms, with 5,000 hives in Lee County, a significant keeper of honeybees.

The weakening comes almost a year after Hurricane Irma took its toll. The flooding destroyed hundreds of hives.

Storms and now the red tide are just the latest problems. Honeybees have been under assault since the late 1990s with a sudden disappearance of bees noticed and reports of unusually high rates of decline in hives.

The red tide and algae have led to a pursuit of funds to study the algae-bee connection.

Councell pointed to area in Bokeelia where he has a number of hives placed on the ground and on a flatbed trailer.

Some of the Bokeelia hives showed signs of no activity, a good indicator that there is a problem, he said.