Throughout history, honey bees have played a vital role in agriculture. Along with producing honey, bees pollinate many of our fruit and vegetable crops. In Ohio, these include apples, melons, cucumbers and pumpkins. Nearly one-third of our diet benefits directly or indirectly from honey bee pollination.
In Ohio over 4,400 beekeepers were registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2014. Nearly 200 of these beekeepers were registered throughout Summit County. Approximately 90% of Ohio beekeepers have five hives or less. Although Ohio Revised Code 909.02 requires that all active bee colonies be registered, many beekeepers choose not to. This can pose a wide variety of issues and can jeopardize the health of our local bee population.
The registration fee for ODA is only $5.00 and information can be found here.
Viruses, mites, and beetles can harm bee colonies. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon in which worker bees seem to simply disappear, is also a major concern around the world. The Apiary Program, conducted through the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), works with several national groups and the USDA in providing samples for the study of CCD which caused massive colony deaths in various parts of the nation, including Ohio.
The Apiary Program coordinates the state and county inspection services that help to ensure a healthy beekeeping industry. ODA County Apiary Inspectors play a valuable role identifying issues related to bee hive design and colony location. A trained inspector can help in identifying potential disease that could negatively impact, or even wipe out a honey bee colony. The Summit County Apiary Inspector is Andy Mondello, who can be reached at 216-375-4747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are concerned about bees and live near beehives, first of all, don’t panic. Honey bees are not aggressive in the way that yellow jackets are. Swarms are quite docile - though interfering with a swarm is not recommended. If you see a swarm, leave it be.
Africanized honey bees, a particularly aggressive strain of honey bees, are not present in Ohio. If you have a concern or complaint about bee colonies located close to you, contact the ODA Apiary Program at 614-728-6373 or Summit County Public Health at 330-926-5600.
If you are considering keeping bees always check with your local community to determine if there are regulations regarding keeping of bees. Also, speak to your neighbors first to discuss your plans and what beekeeping entails, especially if you live in a neighborhood where the houses are in close proximity.
If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper contact the Summit County Beekeepers Association, as they offer beginners Beekeeping classes. You can contact them by calling 330-971-8425. Or you can contact the Ohio State Beekeepers Association; their program consists of a Certified Master Beekeeper Program. For more information, click here.