San Jose neighbor creates buzz over his plans to increase honey bee population

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Friday, February 22, 2019
South Bay neighbor creates buzz over his plans to increase honey bee population
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Bryan Godfrey's ten-frame beehive is ready for the upcoming honey bee swarm season.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- One man's effort to Build a Better Bay Area is creating quite the buzz.

Bryan Godfrey's ten-frame beehive is ready for the upcoming honey bee swarm season. He says watching the honey bees at work is a sight to see on warm, sunny days in San Jose.

"I've sat here with my chair, and just watched," Godfrey said. "It's really cool."

RELATED: Rusty Patched Bumblebee placed on endangered species list

However, like many beekeepers across the country, Godfrey is feeling the sting of declining bee populations.

Godfrey says he noticed there weren't very many bees buzzing around his neighborhood, and decided to take on beekeeping. He started keeping beehives in his backyard last June and says he's had great success with honey and surrounding vegetation. Several months later, he started the Mango Blossom Apiary.

"This whole area, if you look around here, there's just every kind of vegetation you could imagine," Godfrey said. "Fruit trees, vegetables, everything-- and it all needs bees."

On Thursday, Godfrey's hive held no honey bees. He said 60,000 bees normally make up the colony. He explained there are a number of natural reasons the colony could've buzzed off.

Experts say in addition to natural occurrences, there is also a real cause for concern.

"It's not just the insecticides. It's not just the pathogens. It's not just the habitat," Entomologist, Jeff Honda told ABC7 News. "It's everything that's causing the synergistic effect that's essentially causing these declines in bees."

Honda is the Interim Associate Dean for Research in the College of Science at San Jose State University. He explained that if the decline continues, the worldwide impact could be catastrophic. Adding, honey bees are vital pollinators and function as the driving force behind all agriculture.

"If those numbers decline, we're going to have some serious problems with having all of our fruits and vegetables," Honda told ABC7 News.

He pointed to obvious signs of the decrease. "Many years ago you could drive during the summertime and you'd have to stop to clear all the insects off your windshield," he said. "Now, they're noticing all over the world that when you take a drive, your windshields are virtually spotless."

RELATED: Bumblebees outfitted with tiny backpacks to track behavior

Beekeeper Bryan Godfrey says the proof of the declining population was enough for him to take real action.

He started a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising enough money to get at least 10 hives in backyards across his neighborhood.

The money he's raising will go directly to purchasing hives and bees. Godfrey will supply each neighbor with up to two complete hives, including a colony of honey bees and laying queen.

Godfrey says he's willing to come out and see if the space is a good spot for a beehive. He's asking homeowners to allow him access the area once or twice a month, with proper notice.

"What I'm hoping is more awareness of what the bee crisis is," Godfrey explained.

He is working with his mentor and long-time beekeeper, Carman "Okie" Morey. Godfrey is also a member of the Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild.

Click here for a link to Godfrey's GoFundMe campaign page.

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