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Local crops hurt by thousands of bees wiped out in the mudslides

The Thomas Fire and the Jan. 9 mudslides wiped out nearly half of the busy working bees up and down the coast. That means there are less bees helping to pollinate local crops.

“As beekeepers we really got our butts kicked,” said Nick Wigle who is the owner of Super Bee Rescue in Carpinteria.

It’s been a tough two months for local beekeepers. Wigle says between the fires and the mudslides, the bees took a major hit.

“I think we currently lost about 1,000 hives among local beekeepers, but I’m sure there is more,” said Wigle.

The bee loss will have a chain reaction soon targeting local farmers.

“A lot of time avocado farmers don’t pay for bees,” said Wigle. “There is a lot of bees in our area and beekeepers, but with a large number of bees lost…each hive generally pollinates at least one acre so that is over 1,000 less acres that will have pollination.”

Nick first noticed the bee problem the day after the Montecito mudslides. He was walking along the beach helping with cleanup efforts when he spotted hives that washed ashore.

“I started noticing a lot of beekeeping equipment and most people wouldn’t recognize it,” said Wigle. “It was scattered across the beach and pile of debris and every ten feet or so that we would walk we would find another hive part.”

Nick has currently been working in place of the busy bees making nearly 100 hives to rebuild the population of bees that were lost. Nick says it could take up to three years before the population comes buzzing back. He is now asking for the communities help.

Anyone who notices a hive that washed away is asked to contact a beekeeper who can safely move it to where it’s needed. Also, consider planting pollinator-friendly plants.

“So much habitat was destroyed between the fire and the mudslide that it would be a good way to help the bees,” said Wigle. “That would help feed them because they are starving.”

The Super Bee Rescue is hoping to have an open house on March 10 and 11 in Carpinteria to help educate the public on the bee situation.

You can login to their website at superbeerescue.com.

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