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Environment & Climate Change

Backyard beekeeping sees surge of interest

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Michigan’s state apiarist – call him the “bee czar” – says a surge of interest by backyard beekeepers is helping the struggling honeybee population.

Michael Hansen says a decade ago, you might have seen 100 or 200 people at the Michigan Beekeepers' Association annual meeting. This year? There were about 1,000.

“There’s just a tremendous interest in being part of the solution,” Hansen says, in the wake of news about colony collapse disorder, or CCD – in which adult bees disappear from a colony.

CCD has reportedly been less of a problem in recent years. But mites, pesticide exposure and nutritional stress continue to cause problems for bees.

And Hansen says it’s difficult to overstate bees’ importance, Hansen says.  He estimates that in Michigan, bees provide about $2 billion in pollination services.

“And when you realize that … we have at least 60 crops that truly rely on honeybees or native bees for pollination," Hansen says, “it’s a real big deal.” 

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