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Bee populations making a comeback in Oklahoma this summer

After drought conditions reduced vegetation in Oklahoma, bee populations dwindled. Populations seem to be coming back this summer with more rain, experts say
by Robert Medley Modified: June 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm •  Published: June 25, 2012

In the ceiling of an office building in northwest Oklahoma City, bees had swarmed and formed a hive. Thousands of bees were getting into offices.

Bee handler Wendell Scott, 63, was called to get the bees out.

Scott found a honeycomb and bee eggs in the eaves of the roof. He usually tries to remove beehives by hand, leaving the bees unharmed, but in this case, he couldn't get to the bees without doing too much damage to the building, so he had to call a licensed exterminator.

This was just one of many swarms that have been keeping bee handlers busy this year in Oklahoma.

Bees are back

The bee population took a dive in 2011 due to the drought and lack of flowers and other plants. But with more rainfall this year, the bees are coming back, said Don Molnar, apiary specialist with the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department.

Bees don't just produce honey; they pollinate crops.

It's estimated that every third bite of food a person takes in the United States is made possible by honey bees and other pollinators, he said.

In recent years, something has been wiping out bee colonies across the country, Molnar said. The cause remains under investigation. It could have been from pesticides, fungus, virus or bacteria — or a combination. But bee populations dwindled.

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by Robert Medley
Breaking News Reporter
Robert Medley has been a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1989, covering various news beats in the Oklahoma City metro area and in the Norman news bureau. He has been part of the breaking news team since 2008. A 1987 University of Oklahoma...
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