BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Those insects that send some people running for dear life, may be the ones that are keeping people alive. Experts say honey bees are dying across the country including Louisiana.
Bee keeping is a family tradition for Jesse Erwin.
"My great grandfather was a commercial bee keeper," said Erwin.
Erwin makes a living harvesting bee honey with the many colonies of bees he keeps in his family's back yard in Gonzales. But what has him buzzing with concern is the trend he is seeing across the country.
"We are loosing them year after year and my losses are just as bad as anybody else's," said Erwin.
Agricultural experts say the number of honey bee colonies are dropping by the thousands.
Erwin says he hasn't been hit too hard, but can't say the same for others.
"Out of 70 colonies, I've lost maybe 8, but that's not to bad. I do know some people that have 10 hives and lost everyone of them," said Erwin.
Frank Rinkevich with the LSU Agriculture Center says a reason there is an increasing number of bees dying is because of the growing number of chemicals that are in the air every day.
"One of the big things is pesticides. There's parasites, varroa mites, viruses, all kinds of diseases, genetics. You name it," said Rinkevich.
Rinkevich says this is a major issue because one out of three bites of food people eat is the result of pollinization by honey bees. They are responsible for pollinating some fruits, vegetables, nuts and coffee.
He says scientists are working to save bees, but it's hard to pin point the exact problem because the insect is so complex.
However, he says bee keepers can do their part to help out.
"It's very important that bee keepers know how to keep bees," said Rinkevich. "You can't just put them in a box and let them go. You're going to have actively monitor them and keep them healthy."