In the Business of Bees

Over the past decade, bees have been dying in record numbers. Backyard beehives can become a small part in revitalizing the population.

By Robby Osborne

Photo courtesy of StudioSmart/

If you have ever thought about building a beehive in your backyard, there is a question people will always ask you, why?

Bees, and specifically, the bulbous honey bees, are a crucial part of agricultural health with their role in cross pollination.  In the last decade, Bee Colony Collapse Disorder has ravaged the bee population. Last year, around 40 to 50 percent of honey bees colonies in California were lost, and beekeepers lost around one-third of their colonies nationwide.

Regardless of the cause, bees are dropping like flies, and while backyard beehives are not the solution, they can play a small, but helpful roll in bringing the populations back up.

Starting a beehive is serious business, with stinging consequences if done incorrectly. Fortunately, the Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia is around to help. The BANV is an association is a group of beekeepers, or apiculturists, based in the Northern Virginia.  These keepers offer beginner beekeeping classes every spring for those interested becoming hobbyists. The BANV also offer a year-long mentor-ship program for further instruction in apiculture. The resources provided by BANV make the association very desirable for prospective beekeepers. 

If beekeeping is more of a solo project, there are multiple resources throughout the internet to comb through.  For visual learners, The Hive Life is a photo-journal by Kyle Gatti who began Beekeeping on the roof of his condo building in Chicago in the Spring 2012. 

Linda, a Master Beekeeper began beekeeping in 2006 in Atlanta, and since  has attained the title of master beekeeper by the University of Georgia. Her blog allows for readers to contact her directly if one of her posts haven’t answered the question.

Finally, for the more scientifically minded, Scientific Beekeping, chronicles the methods and articles of a biologist, who started beekeeping as a hobby in 1967. The blogger also writes for American Bee Journal on a monthly basis. 

Finally, if allergies or concerned neighbors make a backyard beehive impossible, the biggest way to support bee growth is to buy local honey. Not only can local honey help combat seasonal allergies, but it supports the beekeepers who are helping in their way to save the bees.