Bees were all the buzz as the Texas Bee Supply gave a class on beekeeping at the Allen Public Library on Saturday.
The Texas Bee Supply is a North Texas beekeeping company based in Blue Ridge. While the company harvests honey from its own bees, the Texas Bee Supply also sells bees, boxes, beekeeping suits, feed and other items needed for residents interested in keeping their own bees and harvesting their own honey.
“I was a hobby beekeeper for a while, so I know the importance of bees,” Allen librarian Debbie Vavra said. “We’re always looking for topics that will be of interest to our patrons. We’re used to crafts, we’re used to movies and things, so when you get something like this, it’s good to get variety.”
As honey bees continue to rapidly decline in population, Texas Bee Supply is educating people about how they can help support a bee population in their own backyards. A trend of backyard apiculture, along with other trends related to growing home vegetable gardens and fresh cooking, is on the rise in suburban agriculture.
“I think people are getting into growing their own food, cooking their own food,”Vavre said. “I think it’s a growing hobby. I see people getting into just doing fun things – home brewing, doing your own baking, just things like that. I think [beekeeping] will grow, but I’m no expert on that.”
Over the last 25 years, the number of hives in the United States dropped from 7 million to 2.6 million. With the rise of apiculture, the number of hives kept by hobbyists makes up 600,000 hives across the country.
“The biggest decline of honey bees is the varroa mite from their direct impact on honey bees and the viruses that they bring into the hive,” Lyndon Shook, a founder of Texas Bee Supply said. “A lot of the universities and entomologists are studying how to control the varroa mite.”
While somestudies continue to examinethe decline of bees, recent studies made by the University of Wales, Universtät Bonn in Germany and the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Cornwall, Englandhave discovered the medical advantages of honey as an antibiotic and wound treatment.
“Hospitals are using medication with honey in them for apotherapy,” Shook said. “People with arthritis will buy bees five or six at a time, and they sting themselves to help their arthritis. A lot of studies going on with that as well. The more that bees are studied, and we see the benefits of them, the more we can see the negative things are that are affecting the bees.”
Additionally, honey bees are vital to growing crops.According to the United States Fish and Wildlife service, honey bees pollinate 80 percent of the country’s crops totalling to $10 billion worth of crops.
“Pollination of our food is a big deal. Eighty percent of our crops are pollinated by honey bees, so we’re really pushing for cities like Allen to be more and more bee friendly.”