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Bee Culture

Warranties and Million Hive Bee Boom

Honey Bee Warranties and getting to the bottom of the “Million Hive Bee Boom” with Blake Shook

Are there really a million more honey bee colonies in the U.S.?

Project Apis m. Executive Director, Danielle Downey, sat down with the owner of The Bee Supply and Desert Creek Honey, Blake Shook, to discuss the 2022 Census of Agriculture in which a significant increase in colonies in the U.S. was reported.

Image of Blake Shook, Beekeeper and Owner of Desert Creek Honey and The Bee Supply.

It will take time to completely understand what is behind the reported increase, but it does seem possible that more beekeepers are being counted than in the past. Some are using bees to take advantage of agricultural tax exemptions, and inflation stemming from the pandemic could have bumped others over the $1000 income threshold to qualify for the Census.

“I feel like we are relatively steady, but we are shifting away from hobby beekeepers into to ag-exempt beekeepers that are getting picked up by the census, and sometimes there could be double counting because people are moving their bees around”

— Blake Shook

Why does this matter? Understanding how many colonies are in the U.S. helps inform what resources are needed to support healthy bees and bee businesses.

In this interview, Blake also shares his observations about how newer or small-scale beekeepers explore many different types of beekeeping businesses.

“Years ago the model was if you were going to make a living you became a migratory beekeeper. I don’t see as much of that anymore, but I see so many small-scale beekeepers becoming full-time beekeepers in very unique ways. Beekeeping services, selling honey, selling nucs, teaching classes. There is so much diversity and it’s becoming really competitive!” — Blake Shook

To help support this community, Blake’s company has created a honey bee warranty. This a unique model that, combined with extensive educational support, is creating a recipe for success and sustainable beekeeping for beginner beekeepers.

Why does this matter? Because beekeeping is hard! New beekeepers get easily burned by the steep learning curve, health challenges, and high costs of beekeeping.

This emphasis on education is significant because it will foster greater success within the beekeeping community as a whole. As Blake sees it, all beekeepers are peers on a shared journey.

Watch the interview on their website to learn more:


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