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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - As honeybee populations decrease across the U.S. for a variety of reasons, beekeepers in Palm Beach County are working to create sweet, safe spaces for the busy workers.
"We certainly hope the bees survive," said Kevin Easton, former president of the Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association. "We need to make sure they survive. There’s no hoping about it. We need to make sure they survive, so we have a better paradise."
Easton keeps about one million bees in his backyard in Palm Beach Gardens, called Sunset Apiary.
"It’s a growing hobby, it’s a growing awareness and it’s a great thing that’s happened," he said. "But we need to look at the bigger picture."
Honey bee populations across the country are falling with beekeepers reporting an average 30 percent loss in their colonies each winter since 2006, according to the EPA.
“There’s the viruses. There’s so many stressors, let alone the chemicals that we’re putting out there that they don’t know what to deal with or how to deal with," Easton said.
Parasites, habitat loss and pesticides haven't been very sweet to the bees over the years.
"We’re taking away all of their good food environments," he said. "There used to be fields and fields of saw palmetto out there. Great food for the bees. Now, there’s fields of HOAs and green grass that are being sprayed weekly."
Florida’s conditions are a bit better than other parts of the country.
“Down here in Florida, we don’t see that as much of a problem because we have beautiful, year-round weather," Easton said.
He said the number of beekeepers in Florida has grown over the last ten years from 500 registered beekeepers to 5,000, which is critical to the survival of not only honey bees, but humans too, as bees pollinate the majority of the world's crops.
"You can see on the internet, you can pull up pictures all the time of with bees and without bees breakfast plate," Easton said.
Easton also brings hives to the South Florida Fair, schools and other places to educate people about protecting honey bees.