ANTHON, IA - Mike Divis has been sticking around bees for more than a decade now. He runs a honey bee farm in Anthon, Iowa. It's a job that started as a hobby 12 years ago. Now, he's fighting to keep his hives strong and understand what's making bees die in massive numbers.
Unlike most people, the sound of bees buzzing doesn't bug Mike Divis. A friend lured him into the world of honey bees.
"I met a man that was a bee keeper and I actually helped him, worked with him part–time and got interested in bees and I began selling honey first that I bought from him and then I thought, well I could actually get the bees and make the honey, myself," said Divis.
He's what you would call a bee lover. His bee biz felt the sting back in 2006. Three quarters of his bees suddenly died. Mike blames neonicotinoids: an insecticide used in everything from corn and soybeans to lawn care.
"Almost 100 percent of all of our corn is treated with this insecticide and about 60 to 70 percent of the soybeans. And that really affects our bees and our bees are actually getting sick from that," Divis explained.
That year he stopped packing honey and decided to stick to just raising bees.
"Which was probably a mistake — We should have kept the packing business. But we lost 75 percent of our bees in 2006 and every year since then, we've been losing between 30 and 40 to 50 percent," said Divis.
He's an optimist, though.
"We just have to reinvest in new bees and bring bees in, package bees like we've seen a moment ago and put those in our hives and try to keep the hives going," he said.
After all, you won't find many people who want to buzz about this insect as much as he does.
"They are absolutely fighters. They just overcome a drought. They overcome poisons. They overcome so many things just to survive and if we humans could learn lessons from them, it'd be kind of cool," laughed Divis.
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