Yates & Bailey Bee Farm, beekeeping for over 65 years

BELVOIR, NC (WNCT) – According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, American bee colonies have collapsed at an average rate of nearly 40% over the past 10 years. It’s thanks to the hard work of beekeepers like Bobby Yates that the population is still there.

Bobby Yates of Yates & Bailey Bee Farm has been beekeeping since 1954 when he was 12 years old. He currently has more than 55 beehives that actively make honey and pollinate the extensive garden on his property.

“A third of the food you eat at the table people really don’t realize is pollinated by bees,” Yates said.

Bees are one of the best pollinators, helping crops from fruits and vegetables to alfalfa and even walnuts thrive and come back year after year.

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That’s why, like many beekeepers across the country, Yates is concerned about the use of neonic pesticides and their detrimental impact on the bee population. Neonics are now the most widely used class of insecticides in the United States, applied to approximately 150 million acres of crops each year.

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In the past year, 45% of the country’s honey bee colonies have collapsed, the second highest loss on record.

The use of neon pesticides can be up to 10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT. Neonic-treated seeds, used in almost all conventional corn crops and 50% of soybean crops, contain enough toxic ingredients to kill 250,000 bees with just one seed. Evidence from the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that excessive use of these types of pesticides can lead to contamination of drinking water and even birth defects in humans.

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So how can non-beekeepers help? Stop using harmful pesticides like neonics. And if you see a hive on your property, enlist the help of a local beekeeper who can safely remove the hive and preserve the colony.

Yates & Bailey Bee Farm is located at 5368 HWY 33 W in Belvoir. Yates frequents local farmers markets to sell his honey products, especially the Leroy James Farmer’s Market.

For more information on bees and beekeeping: Home of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association – The North Carolina State Beekeepers Association (