Part 1: Beekeeping gains popularity throughout the Pine Tree State

Published: May. 23, 2018 at 8:55 PM EDT
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With the warmer weather, you may have noticed more bees are out and about.

But, for some folks, seeing bees are a part of their daily life so, what's the buzz about bees?

With more than 1,000 beekeepers in Maine, folks have dedicated an interest to not only raising them but, making their own hives.

Beekeeper Gary Hanes said, “Back in about 2011 I think it was, my new neighbor was getting a bunch of fruit trees and high bush blueberries and we wanted to expand our garden so I said, well we ought to get some honey bees for pollination."

Several years in the making- Gary Hanes of Winn has a stinging passion for honeybees.

He said, "You can just sit down and watch the bees for hours on end, they're just incredible."

A desire to work with the bees overcame an experience when he was young.

"I was brought right up here too, and we used to have some cattle, and they got out one day and my father and I were walking down in the woods and I stepped on a hornets nest and I just got covered with hornets so, I was really kind of shooey about bees,” said Hanes.

Now Hanes is the head of the Northern Penobscot Beekeeper's Association and he taught me a thing or two about honey bees.

He has more than 100,000 hard at work helping with pollination and producing honey.

"Right now, I have Italian bees and the bees have a job to do and you can see they are busy doing it right now. As long as they don't feel threatened by any means you can stand and watch them and most of the time they're fine,” Hanes added.

But, he's not the only one who's got the "bees knees."

According to Jennifer Lund, Maine State Apiarist, there was an increase of more than 600 beekeepers between 2007 and 2011.

Lund said, “In that same time, we've doubled the amount of hives that are registered in the State of Maine, so beekeeping has become more popular."

University of Maine Professor of Insect Ecology, Frank Drummond took an interest in this hobby when he was young.

"I was very curious and I had a neighbor that raised honeybees and so I’ve been at it on and off for more than fifty years now,” said Drummond.

It’s not only the love for the bees that Drummond and Hanes share, it’s these words of encouragement if you'd like to get involved.

Hanes said. "If you only have one or two hives-it's not a big time commitment. You don't need much space and bees will travel two to three mile radius. Make a circle around your hive you'll find they have a lot of forage."

"The best way to get started is to join a local bee club. We have a Bee Club Association in almost every county. You can read books and learn on your own but learning from others who are more experienced is the best way” said, Drummond.

Hanes added, "Look at why you want bees. You can get bees for pollination which a lot of people do. You can get [them] if you want extra honey. Our garden field has probably at least doubled since we've had honeybees."

To learn more about beekeeping or to join the Maine Beekeepers Association or to find a local chapter near you, visit