The Buzz Is Back: Bay Area Honey Bee Population Rebounding

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After years of decline, it appears the honey bee population is rising again in the Bay Area.

Experts say the wet winter may be part of the reason why. The last time the region saw a huge increase in the bee population was back in 2017, the last year there was significant amounts of rain all across the state.

In the East San Jose foothills, a huge bee swarm recently flew into a backyard. The homeowner, who didn't want to be identified, said he's never seen anything like it.

"Basically saw a big, huge ball of bees that was probably 30 feet high and it was slowly moving across the ground," the homeowner said.

Tim Dauber is a bee catcher, although he prefers the word rescuer. He's been busy.

"It’s been a few years since we've had good nectar sources, and that really dictates that we’re having healthy bee populations," he said.

That's good news for the millions of plants and flowers that need pollinating. The bee colonies had been declining in the last few years, victims of what's called the varroa mite infestations that were killing off the colonies.

Dauber said the heavy rains this past winter changed everything. The blooming floral landscape is making a big difference, and that also means better human food production.

"We are now relying on them for pollinating our apples, for pollinating our apricots, watermelons, pumpkins," Dauber said. "Without bees, there’s really no pizza. That’s what I tell people."

Dauber said he safely relocates bee swarms from homes into beehive boxes where the bees can get to work.

He urges homeowners who do find swarms to get someone to move them quickly. He said if people wait, they can end up with a colony of bees in their chimneys, cars and even inside their walls.

"If the bees are allowed to kind of fester, you gotta remember a new swarm will bring almost a pound of honey in a day," he said. "So in a matter of two weeks, you can have about 14 pounds of honey in your wall."

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