The article of June 11 on honeybees requires some comment. Eric Olson is quoted as saying, "When I come back to the cranberries, the bees are gone." This was obviously a misunderstanding as Eric tells us he did not make this statement.
2007 was one of the best years ever for bees in the cranberries. They ended the season in very strong condition, with a larger store of honey than normal. They were moved into fireweed in the north where they fared very badly. Additionally, we understand they did poorly on blueberries in the northern part of the state. During the winter months Olson encountered an extreme die-off rate.
This clarification does not lessen the severity of the bee die-off problem, not only in Washington, but in the nation. What is called colony collapse, for lack of specific knowledge of the reasons, has been a major problem throughout the country for the past two years.
Unless we can find answers to ease this problem, the food supply is going to be drastically affected in the future. Think of a time when you can no longer purchase most of the fruits and vegetables that you now take for granted.
It is imperative that our legislators and universities put forth the funds and the effort to support research in this area. Farmers around the country, including local cranberry growers, have contributed to this effort.
We value Eric Olson and his services highly. We cannot replace him with another beekeeper of such quality. If he and other beekeepers continue to lose such high numbers of bees it will make farming difficult for us as well as for farmers of other crops.
Long Beach cranberry grower