Interest in beekeeping surges during pandemic

The pandemic has inspired many of us to pick up a new hobby, whether it be knitting, baking or beekeeping.

According to two local beekeeping businesses, the curiosity around building a personal bee farm has surged in popularity.

"Interest in becoming a beekeeper has increased 250-300% this Spring," said Brian Scott, the owner of Innisfil Creek Honey.

Scott says the boom in business is linked to many people being forced to stay home over the last year, and they are now looking at options to become more self-sufficient.

"I think the pandemic has opened people's eyes and made them start to think where in the world is my food coming from," said Scott.

Living off the land is a feeling shared by the majority of new customers at Bark Apiaries in Minesing.

Owner Mike Barks says in recent months, the company has seen a sharp increase from people wanting to harvest their own honey and are looking for the tools to do so.

"I sell a lot of bees every spring, and this year I'm pretty much sold out, and people usually don't get them until June," said Barks.

"We've seen a huge uptick in beginner beekeepers."

Barks and Scott both provide the bees, equipment and beekeeping courses to large-scale bee farms and hobbyists.

The two are hoping in the next few months, pending COVID-19 restrictions, to expand their beekeeping classrooms to meet the demand.

"We can offer a handful of people courses inside and more outside, but it's up in the air," said Barks.

"I'd like to have thirty people per class out here on the grass soon," said Scott.