The buzz from Columbus County is that there's a honey shortage. More than six hundred miles from the bankers on Wall Street the worker bees on Mill Pond Road are experiencing a recession of their own. “We constantly have customers asking for honey and we just look at them and say, we don't have honey,” said Columbus County Bee Keepers Association President Eddie Ward. It's prime gathering season, but there's little honey to be had. Eddie Ward, said the weather is to blame. Last year, a late frost and a dry summer, damaged the nectar flow. Bees rely on nectar to survive through the winter, and to produce honey, but a long-cold winter season, without enough nectar means fewer bees. “Starvation deaths are up this year. I've seen a lot of starvation deaths not just in my hives but in other peoples hives,” Ward said. The result is not so sweet. In 2008, Ward only gathered 350 pounds of honey as compared to 1000 pounds the year before. That shortfall stings as money from honey, helps pay for the bees. “That's one of the ways we recoup on the supplies and different things we need to take care of our bees when we feed them, all those things have to be paid for.” Ward says he plans to wait until next month to gather the honey he'd ordinarily be harvesting now. By then maybe they'll be more to sell, and business will keep him busy as a bee. In addition to making honey, bees are an important part of agriculture in Columbus County, because the pollinate many of the crops, like blueberries and strawberries.
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