ANDERSON, Ind. — Crystal Ostler pulled the hive out of the big white box. Where thousands of red and yellow pollinators used to buzz and make honey, there’s just silence and a few lifeless bees.
“We don’t know it for a fact, but when we got the test results back, it ruled out natural causes,” Crystal Ostler said.
Her husband, Tom Ostler, has been a beekeeper for 15 years, but most of his bees died off last fall. The handful remaining couldn’t survive the harsh winter.
The couple sent some of the bees to a lab in Maryland, and while they don’t know for sure what the cause of death was, the Ostlers think pesticides played a part.
“It may not have been associated with that at all, but it just makes you wonder (why) they’re gone,” Crystal said.
It’s just another reason why the two are trying to grow their own food without using chemicals.
The Anderson couple’s home sits on about eight acres in the country filled with chickens, horses, fruits, vegetables and various plant life from around the world.
“It’s important for us to try to build edible landscape to have something to sustain us for years to come,” Crystal said.
The pair has dozens of plants growing, including Annabelle hydrangeas, cherries, grapes and goji berries. They’ve spent countless hours researching what plants have the potential to thrive in the area and their health effects.
“We’re trying to raise an edible landscape, and we’re trying to pull from different cultures throughout the world and see what fits here in Indiana,” Tom said.
On the edge of their property sits a “No Drift Zone” sign, a signal to local farmers that they have sensitive crops that could easily be damaged.
The accidental drift from pesticide spray on farmers’ crops can expose people, animals and other wildlife to residues that can cause health problems, environmental effects and property damage, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.