More Beekeepers Needed to Boost Local Agriculture
Harford County is home to 136 registered beekeepers who care for 644 colonies, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Agriculture. However, figures across the whole of Maryland are much healthier. A total of 2,200 registered beekeepers were on record in 2017, who looked after 15,600 colonies. And, while the majority of beekeepers in Harford County will state that caring for bees is a joyful pastime, it’s the impact on local agriculture which benefits the most.
Better quality crops
Bees are traditionally known for producing top-quality honey. However, they also play a crucial role in Harford County’s agriculture. Bees pollinate plants and flowers in and around the local area which, in turn, creates higher quality produce. Local beekeeper, Ruth Anne Snyder, recalls how her now husband, Lloyd Snyder, turned her father’s crop of apples around with the introduction of beehives. “He said, ‘You have those apple trees out there, and I think you’d have a better crop of apples if you had the bees to pollinate them.’ ” Within six months, Ruth’s father had a thriving orchard of apples and had taken on six hives of bees.
The consequences of fewer bees
If Harford County was to see a dramatic decline in the number of bees in the area, there would be a decline in the production of crops. Furthermore, an increased number of crops would die due to no pollination. As a result, local produce would become few and far between and the county would have no choice but to utilize crops from other parts of America, or even other countries. Ultimately, this would push food prices up due to the import costs incurred.
Why Harford County needs more beekeepers
Beekeepers in Harford County actively encourage the recruitment of new beekeepers. After all, with the University of Maryland reporting that beekeepers in the country lost one-third of their bee colonies between 2016 and 2017, more beekeepers can only help to increase numbers. Moreover, hives will become more diverse and this protects against losses caused by diseases or a lack of pollen.
Wearing the right clothing to protect you from bee stings is a must when working as a beekeeper. A specialist beekeeper hat is highly recommended for ultimate face, neck and shoulder safety. Additionally, a full-on beekeeper outfit should be worn anytime you’re near your colony of bees. It’s wise to start out your beekeeping venture with just a small colony of bees while you get used to caring for them and getting to grips with the basics. The Maryland State Beekeepers Association offers an abundance of support to new and long-standing beekeepers in the state. By joining the team, you’ll be showing your dedication and support to Maryland’s commitment to boost the skills and knowledge of local beekeepers.
Beekeepers play an important role in Harford County’s agriculture sector. However, more could be done to promote and support the effort of the 136 beekeepers residing in the county. Therefore, now is the perfect time to turn your hand to beekeeping and to fall in love with a whole new hobby.