COLUMBIA, Md. — Honeybees may be struggling worldwide, but more bees are finding new homes with amateur beekeepers.
This comes in spite of a years-long panic over a worrisome decline in the bee population from Colony Collapse Disorder and other killers like mites, viruses and overuse of pesticides. Honeybees are dying off at an average of 30 percent per year, experts said.
But that isn’t slowing people like Diane Dunne, of Columbia, Md., from signing up for beekeeping classes.
“I’ve always loved the outdoors but I’ve never had a hobby like this,” said Dunne, who, along with her husband, Dennis Dunne, is planning on beginning beekeeping in the next year or two. The growth in interest in beekeeping is promising, experts said.
“If we really want to change the environment to help bees, we need a cultural shift,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland. “Backyard beekeepers can be instrumental in that.”
More than anything, the public’s awareness spiked at the height of the media coverage of colony collapse disorder and spurred a number of citizens into beekeeping.
“The more you understand about bees the more insignificant you feel,” Dennis Dunne said. “It’s like another little world.”
“Once you start learning and take the time to read about the honey bee, it infects you with this interest,” said David Maloney, president of the Frederick County, Md., Beekeeping Association.