After a bad year for the bees, some beekeepers have stepped up to revive the dwindling bee population. The South Carolina Beekeepers Association are running beekeeping classes to attract more people to take learn the art of beekeeping as a way to counteract the possibility of a global bee colony collapse. In New Orleans, for example, hives are becoming increasingly popular fixture in the backyard , right alongside chicken coops and urban vegetable gardens.
The value of honey bees cannot be underestimated as it is responsible for the pollination of about one third of the food crops we eat. Bees help in the pollination of fruits and vegetables, from peaches and berries to tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. According to the association, bee pollination rakes in more than $25 million in annual value of farm cash receipts from agricultural crops.
While honey bees may not be close to extinction, there is a significant drop in the number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States over the past 60 years, The State says. There are only less than 2.4 million colonies today compared to around 5 million in the past. “Nowadays, versus 50 to 75 years ago, food crops were dependent on pollination by feral bees, wasps and such,” Danny Cannon, president of the South Carolina Mid-State Beekeepers Association, says.
Cannon explained that million of bees were lost in recent years to pesticides and diseases. Given the weight of the importance of honey bees as natural pollinators, the association brainstormed to restore the balance. Now, with 24 local affiliates statewide, the association gives beekeeping classes from January to March, to reawaken interest in keeping honey bees and keeping healthy colonies, TheTimes-Picayune says.
The classes offered suit different skill levels, from beginner to continuing education for those already with colonies. Luckily, the classes are gaining more popularity and interest, especially when you can find them on Facebook. Canon himself was not interested in bees until he attended one of the classes that got him hooked.
His own bee farm, Cannon’s Bee Trail Farm, launched in January 2012 have grown to 300 hives and produce around 10,000 pounds of honey. A desire to be connected to nature and an increased awareness of the importance of bees in the ecosystem, is why more people are taking up the hobby. The future of agriculture and the fate of honey bees now rest in the hands of new beekeepers.