Bees: Springtime pests or endangered helpers?

Chynna Greene # State

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Warmer temperatures mean more bees could be buzzing around your home or even forming hives in East Tennessee yards. While a gut reaction may be to swat or spray -- specialists say that might not be the right course of action to take.

A Blount County beekeeper told Local 8 News reporter Chynna Greene that an exterminator should be the last person to call in the case of a bee infestation. In fact, he said Tennessee has lost 70 to 80 percent of bees across the state just this year.

Experts have said the loss of bees has been noticeable during the past decade or so, and more people have begun picking up beekeeping as a hobby to assist with regrowing depleted populations.

Luke Newman said he started collecting his colonies only a few years ago, but he couldn't be happier that he picked it up.

"It's helping them and it's helping me because I enjoy doing it,"
Newman said.
"They're really good at pollinating the environment, and it's been a joy learning about them, really."

Newman said for folks who find hives in their yards this season -- don't kill them. Most Tennessee counties have bee associations, and homeowners should contact them so someone can come out and collect the insects. To read more about the Blount County Beekeepers Association, visit their website here.

People interested in picking up the hobby should pay attention to the price tag: one hive of bees could cost close to $500.