Lewisburg – Growing up in the apiary business, Davey Hackenberg has seen the industry’s decline first-hand as he struggles to maintain the business handed down to him by his father.
“Back when I started in it, it was more lucrative, I guess you could say. Now I’m just worried about what it’s going to be in the future,” Hackenberg said. “With all the chemical issues coming on, it’s been a lot of stressful years.”
After years of prosperity, Hackenberg and his father Dave Sr., the business’s founder, began to see a drastic decline in their bee population around 2004.
This was shortly after the agriculture industry changed from contact sprays to systemic pesticides, he said. The unfortunate side-effect meant that instead of chemicals simply being on the surface of the plant, now they are inside the pollen itself.
The bees then consume the chemicals while pollinating the crops and, in turn, infect their hive and bee generations of hives to follow.
The result is something similar to the Aids virus in humans, Hackenberg said. It breaks down the immune system of the bees so that other simple ailments, often transmitted by mites, can become deadly.
Hackenberg’s father started keeping honey bees in his backyard during high school. Seeing how lucrative the business could be at the time, he founded Hackenberg Apiaries and for a while saw success.
In its heyday, the business sold over 300 barrels of honey each year, but now averages …