This Saturday, August 21, is National Honeybee Day! In honor of this holiday, we spoke with Owner and Master Beekeeper of All American Bee Company, Will Johnson, about what’s buzzing in the industry today. Check out his responses below!
Q: What’s one important lesson you have learned about the honeybee industry throughout your career as a beekeeper?
A: “I have learned that the beekeeping industry is a very important and ever-changing entity that faces constant challenges. It is almost comical at times to see what the next challenge we will be faced with is. Sometimes it is weather, pests (mice, dragonflies, bear, etc.), or this past year it was COVID-19, where the availability of many beekeeping products decreased and the items that were available in some cases increased in price by 300 percent. If there was ever a time to really make an effort to support a beekeeper, it is now! I feel in the short-term at least the cost increases and lack of availability are going to force some beekeepers out of the industry and slow or prevent the influx of new beekeepers from being able to take up the craft.”
Q: What advice would you give to a first-time beekeeper?
A: “The best advice I could give a first-time beekeeper is to get your bee education from a reputable source and join your state and local beekeeping association BEFORE you purchase any honey bees or beekeeping equipment. Learn from these groups and immerse yourself in the experiences that they have to offer. Volunteer with local beekeeping associations or club member apiaries for a year. Really take the time to experience beekeeping to get a real understanding of all the time and expenses involved with keeping honeybees successfully. There is nothing more frustrating or discouraging than for a new beekeeper to have spent lots of money only to have their excitement crushed if/when they loose or kill their bees shortly after starting the new endeavor. Some people may find that they are truly allergic to honeybees. It would be like having never been around a cat, only to get one and find out you are deathly allergic and have to get rid of him/her. Spend time around honeybees, beekeepers and fully experience beekeeping itself. Then make your decision as to whether it is something you want to fully commit yourself to or not.”
Q: What is one thing that you wish the public knew about honeybees?
A: “I wish everyone knew that honeybees are actually very docile insects. They do not want to sting you and, actually, they die if they do sting you. Generally, honeybees only sting when being squished or if their hives are threatened. As a beekeeper, we work closely with millions of honeybees in their hives and many times they do not offer to sting us at all. The best thing to do when you see a honeybee is to observe them from a distance. If you ever find a swarm or hive, contact a beekeeper to request the bees be relocated.
Q: What is buzzing in the N.C. beekeeping industry today?
A: “The latest buzz in the industry today is honestly surrounding pest control, specifically mites. The varroa mite has now plagued the honeybee industry for many years. Today, there are a variety of new highly desired genetic traits being breed for in honeybees to help them better manage these mites. Also, the Tropilaelaps mite, which is similar to the varroa mite but smaller, is currently found only in a few areas of the world, but it is something that beekeepers need to be aware of and learn about. At the current time, it is highly unlikely that you will find a Trophilaelaps mite in the U.S., but if you happen to notice any in your hives, please contact your state apiary inspector immediately.”
Thank you Will for taking the time to fly by and educate us about the beekeeping industry in our state. We are thankful for beekeepers like you who help keep these important pollinators around to nourish the agriculture products, like fruits, flowers and vegetables, that we enjoy every day!