ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Much like humans, honeybees are vulnerable to drought and disease, but in the past 40 years, the issues have only grown. 

“Because of an invasive parasite called the viral mite which came in the late 1980s and we’re still battling that because it’s a tick-like parasite and like ticks they transmit viruses,” said Pat Bono, the President of New York Bee Wellness.

Outside of the growing issues of disease within the hives, the loss of local plants and flora has been adding to the stress, according to local beekeepers Jacob and Jason Wyland.

“[The] Issue [is] that there’s a lot of mono-crops corn and other things like that which wipe out a lot of natural flora,” said Wyland.

The brothers rely on wildflower and native plant populations for their 100% wildflower honey, most of which they use to make mead at Fairport Brewing Company, the first farm brewery in Monroe County according to Fairport’s Brew Guru, Ian Maloney. 

“A farm brewery is required to use somewhere around 80% of New York State ingredients so the hops, the honey, the juice, the fruits, and other things that we put into the mead will have to come from New York State,” elaborated Maloney.

Relying on mainly local goods and agriculture for the brewery means they feel the impacts of long dry stretches like the one we’re in now and have faced in the past, especially when it comes to honey.

“Last year was the worst honey season on record within the last 40 to 80 years.  We estimated that 50% less honey was produced,” said Wyland.

While the impacts of this year’s dry weather have yet to be felt, the Wyland brothers said it is something they are concerned about moving forward. Thankfully, they acknowledged they got off to a good start in the spring.