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Unexpected threat left by Hurricane Michael

Jerry Hayes of Vita Bee Health has stepped up to help beekeepers in the Florida Panhandle following the third most intense Atlantic hurricane ever. In October, an estimated 3000 honey bee colonies suffered the brunt of Hurricane Michael when it made landfall in the Florida Panhandle and blew its way north through the Carolinas. The main damage took a surprising form.

Although one commercial beekeeper reported losing  200 colonies mainly because the roofs came off in the hurricane leaving the colonies exposed to robbing, the danger for most beekeepers’ colonies was to be in the weeks following the hurricane.

Tony Hogg, president of the Florida Beekeepers Association, explained that physical damage was not the main problem. Many hives survived, but the damage to pollen and nectar sources was huge.

Assessing the situation and knowing the area well from his time as Florida’s chief apiary inspector, Jerry Hayes, Vita’s vice president in North America, said, “I quickly realised that the most effective way of helping beekeepers and bees to recover from the damage – and the potential colony losses to come – was to provide a range of feed products. Local forage had been decimated and will take months to recover. Meanwhile the bees will be without food – not just nectar, but even more importantly pollen to help the colonies build up and recover. By the beginning of December, I  had arranged the distribution of sufficient VitaFeed Power, Vita BeeFood and VitaFeed Nutri to feed 1000 colonies.”

Grateful for the contribution, Tony Hogg told Jerry Hayes, “I would like to thank you and Vita Bee Health for your contribution to the recovery effort. It has been a challenge for all to make it come together but a worthwhile challenge. The contributions have made an impact as folks are getting bees back into shape.”

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