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What’s all the buzz about? a look at life without bees

Posted on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 10:23 am

As the bee population declines, growers become concerned about future

Shown above is just a few of the bees hanging around one of Fred Meders many hives. At any time there can be anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 bees to any one colony and the job they play is more vital than many even realize.

It is said that nothing works harder or stays busier than bees; at least that’s the buzz. For many, they see a bee and do everything they can to either kill it or out run it, but how many have ever stopped and thought just how important the bee is to everyday life? How without them society could take an unfixable plunge and life as many know it would cease to exist. It’s hard to believe that such a small insect has such a big impact on everything around it.

Fred Meder, who has been involved in honey production, bee keeping and even bee removal for approximately five years in the Lincoln County and Elsberry areas said bees have more of an impact on modern society than any one person could believe. Not just as pollinators but as medical marvels.

Meder is also a retired vet, who while serving his country was injured and now suffers from bad knees, shoulders back and many other ailments. However, what he discovered and what is not a standard practice is that the stings from the bees have actually helped numb his pain and has worked almost like a physical or acupunctural therapy for him, allowing him to do more physical labor and wean himself off the prescriptions he was once on. It has also helped his wife, who prior to his grand hobby, suffered from bad allergies.

“When we first moved back to Missouri, my wife was on breathing treatments a few times a week. I mean her allergies were just horrible,” explained Meder. “But some friends of ours suggested she start using local honey because as bees work and collect the honey, they get a little bit of the pollen particles mixed in. So by eating it, your micro dosing yourself with the pollen, which in turn builds up your immune system.”

Since starting, Meders wife simply uses an inhaler a couple times a week, as needed. But that is not what makes bees so important to gardeners, farmers and the economy. It’s what they do as pollinators that make them so valuable.

“Without bees our economy would fall,” said Meder. “They are so instrumental in the cycle of life that it’s just remarkable to think about.”

One example Meder gave was that of the “Bee Movie.” According to him, there is a lot of truth in the movie to where as if bees stopped doing their jobs, or vanished from existence a great deal of things would begin declining as well.

“Another example is this. Look at our almond industry. If bees didn’t help in the pollination of the trees that produce the almonds, what would happen?” asked Meder. “We would see the almond industry suffer, which would raise the cost of your almonds. It would then affect the bakers and cooks that rely on almonds or almond extracts, which would then affect consumers. It would affect transit drivers as well, because if there isn’t as many almonds being shipped, there wouldn’t be a need for many drivers, so now you have that and it would just continue to domino effect our entire county.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, honeybees pollinate 80 percent of the countries flowering crops that constitutes a third of everything people eat. Losing the bee population would potentially reduce mankind to nothing more than a water diet. One study done out of Cornell University estimated that honeybees annually pollinate approximately $14 billion worth of seeds and crops throughout the U.S.

“Are there other insects that can pollinate? Yes, but what many don’t understand is that the same things causing us to see a

Fred Meder, a local bee keeper and honey producer, has several colonies throughout Lincoln County. According to him, not only do these little buzzers, have some medical benefits, they also are responsible for approximately one third of the U.S. food supply.

reduction in bee population are also affecting those insects,” explained Meder. “As more and more farmers and growers use herbicides, insecticides and other chemicals they are essentially killing the bees, which in a stretch of the sense, us.”

In 2009, according to Meder, there was almost a 36 percent decline in the bee population. In 2010 it was 32 percent, which means if a keeper has 100 colonies, 30 of them were dying and as each colony can have anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 bees, approximately one million bees were lost from just one keeper.

“As we continue to grow we continue to take away areas for bees to pollinate,” said Meder. “A bee will forge almost two-miles around the hive. But if you think about what all could lie within those two miles, they may only have five-six acres that they can actually forge.”

Meder went on to explain that although these insects are a nuisance in the eyes of some, they are in fact the backbone of how people live today. In fact, many people don’t realize the vital role bees play in maintaining a balanced eco-system and how without them human life would not be sustainable, at least that is how many experts are vocalizing their thoughts; no bees, no humans.

“If we don’t start acting and protecting our bees, life as we know it will change,” said Meder. “They’re not like cockroaches or rats or what have you, but they are essential to our existence and in most cases if left alone, will not attack. If more people would use natural remedies to protect their growth then we could protect these key life players.”

In an effort to further help people understand just how important bees are to human existence, Meder along with several other bee experts are starting the Quad County Beekeepers club. The group will meet the first Tuesday of every month at the Lincoln County Extension Center located at 880 West College, Troy. Meetings will start at 7 p.m. and are open to anyone that wants to learn about beekeeping.

Meder, as mentioned earlier is also an expert at honeybee removal and provides this service, generally, for free.

“I also cut honey bees out of houses, trees, and stuff. Most of the time I don’t charge for that either unless it is a big job and then I try to cover my gas,” said Meder. “Swarm Season, which is the time of the year when most bees swarm is normally the first of May until the end of June.”

For more information about the club or to safely remove unwanted bees, contact Meder at 636-528-1535 or email him at

Meder has several locations throughout Elsberry and Troy where he is able to relocate bees.

“I would rather remove and use them than see them killed,” said Meder. “We need them more than they need us.”

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