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N.C. Bees Abuzz Helping Produce Bigger, Better Crops

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ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. — While most people see bees as buzzing, stinging insects that should be avoided, bees are big business for a Wake County man.

Busy bees buzz in and out of a hive, pollinating strawberries along the way. The bees and their hives belong to Jack Tapp.

"This hive probably has somewhere around 60,000-plus bees in it," he said.

Tapp owns 650 hives. He rents them to farmers who use the bees to pollinate their crops.Tapp charges less than $50 for each hive -- a bargain he says, since the bees help produce bigger and better crops.

"We almost guarantee a strawberry grower a 300 percent increase in production," Tapp said.

If a crop does not get enough bee visits, berries can be malformed and lack sweetness.

Tapp stores some of his hives in a field near Chapel Hill. He said he is not afraid of bees, but he does have a healthy respect for them.

Tapp said it is important for everyone to realize how important bees are.

"Every third bite of food that we eat is directly dependant upon the pollination of the honey bee," he said.

Tapps' bees work to sweeten everything from berries to watermelons to cucumbers.

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