Local Wichita beekeeper fighting to protect bees

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Wes Wolken knows the pain of a bee sting well. 

"I've just always been a beekeeper," says Wolken. 

He also knows why their sting is pale in comparison to the work they do everyday. 

"Bees are crucial. They're responsible for every third bite that we take," says Wolken. 

A huge portion of the world's crops, like apples, almonds and broccoli are dependent on bees for pollination. In the past 13 years, the U.S. has lost 40% of its commercial honey bees. 

"Einstein said a world without bees, man would survive for four years," says Wolken.

Bee deaths have been linked to a group of pesticides called Neonicotinoids. 

"It's a synthetic nicotine, so when the bees get it or get it into their system, it messes up their equilibrium," says Wolken. 

States like Minnesota and California have modified their laws to protect against potentially dangerous pesticides, but Kansas does not have similar legislation. 

"Their makeup to know where they're at and how to get home is gone. Basically, I find them on the ground going around in circles," says Wolken.

Several major home improvement stores across the country have stopped selling products that contain the pesticides. Johnson's Garden Center in Wichita says Neonicotinoids aren't normally used on flowers, which is what bees are attracted to.

"There are cases that we can use a neonicotinoid on a large tree that we have some issues with that we're not really worried about flowers, so we can help prevent some larger problems," says Jeremy Johnson, with Johnson's Garden Center. 

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

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