The unusually warm winter, from which New Mexico recently emerged from, wreaked havoc on an important species throughout the state and current conditions aren’t helping, either.
“It’s heartbreaking, you go into the hive and you find all these dead bees in there, it’s really sad,” explained Lu Lu Sage.
Beekeeper Lu Lu Sage says this past winter in New Mexico was devastating for local bees.
She says bees are supposed to cluster in hives during the cold winter months, but that’s not what many beekeepers around the state saw this year.
“This winter, it was so warm during the day that the bees were flying,” Sage explained. “And then when they were coming back into the hive, as the sun is going down, they couldn’t cluster again.”
Unable to stay warm through the cold winter nights, entire hives didn’t make it.
“So, they just couldn’t get warm at night and they froze to death,” Sage said.
She does not have the final numbers yet from surveys, but thinks about 50 percent of bees here did not survive the winter.
When asked if that is normal, Sage responded, “No, we used to lose maybe 25, 20 percent whatever, but with climate change… you see your bees flying in the winter, that’s a really bad sign.”
She says many local beekeepers have opted to buy bee ‘packages’ from California to increase their numbers this spring, but the worsening drought is only furthering the problem.
Lack of moisture means flowers don’t blossom which means larvae can’t feed.
“We’re really encouraging people to plant more native plants,” Sage explained.
She also suggests avoiding herbicides and pesticides.
“So if you don’t go into the winter time really at the top of your game all of these stressors are going to be a big factor in hives not surviving,” she said.
It’s a perfect storm affecting much-needed workers on our planet.
Albuquerque beekeepers are also reminding people that if they see swarms, to leave them alone and call 311 immediately.
People can also reach beekeepers directly. For more information, click here.