When Michael Olson first began working as a bee remover and relocator in the Crossroads, swarms of feral bees terrified him.
“I thought that when I ran into those aggressive bees, I couldn’t do them,” Olson said. “I would tell a customer to call the exterminators.”
But as Olson continued to work with bees and began to expand his own apiary of honeybees, he learned firsthand how crucial bees are to the ecosystem. Honeybees are the world’s most important pollinator. Their impact on U.S. agriculture is enormous: Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates insect pollination is worth more than $3 billion in crop value.
For these and other reasons, preservationists have increasingly argued for finding ways to coexist with bees.
“As people that depend on the bees for pollination, we need to learn how to live with them and not try to exterminate them,” Olson said. “We live with a lot of dangerous insects and animals and reptiles, and we don’t try to exterminate all of them, and not all of them are as helpful as bees are.”
There are more than 20,000 different species of bees, and while certain species are endangered, the group of pollinators as a whole is not. However, scientists have still reporting troubling trends in the decline of bees: In the last decade, more than 10 million bees have died in the U.S. as the result of urbanization and pesticide use, according to research from the Climate Institute. As this trend continues, preservationists and bee experts have increasingly argued that their habitats should be preserved.
For his part, Olson urges anyone who spots a beehive close to where they live or work to contact an expert for a relocation as soon as possible because bees will only get more aggressive in the summer months as they are pollinating and hives are growing. If a hive is relocated quickly, he said, the bees can be saved and attacks can be prevented before they happen.