Backyard beekeeping booms in the Treasure Valley

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Beekeepers in the Treasure Valley are working to increase the population of bees after seeing heavy losses back in 2012.

There's a need for bees here in Idaho, and around the world. Without bees to pollinate our food, Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club says we would lose a large percentage of food production.

"The worst case scenario is that we start losing vast amounts of bee colonies," president Chad Dickinson said. "We would lose 30% of our food production, and there's a lot of people that eat food. "We're not slowing down on making people."

While the beehives are quiet now, in a couple of months, things will look much different. Boise resident Angie Day says she still checks up on her colony in the winter months.

"You know, I do feel responsible for them like a pet so I wouldn't want anything to happen to them," Day said.

The mother of two is raising bees in her backyard. She has been doing it for about a year, but had a little help from Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club to get her started. Now, she's more or less doing it on her own.

Day is an amateur beekeeper. Beekeeping is a hobby many people in the Treasure Valley are diving into, and experts say it can help combat the shortage of bees in the area.

Experts say there are a number of things that contribute to bees getting killed off. Pesticides and insecticides have been known to harm bees. In the Treasure Valley, a harsh winter in 2012 killed off about 50% of bees in hobbyist beekeepers hives.

Dickinson says while educating people about beekeeping can be a daunting task, he's encouraged by the number of people trying to help out and contribute to that population growth.

"I think this has the potential to be able to make an impact and help," he said.

Colony collapse disorder is an issue that expands beyond the Treasure Valley, but Day says she feels better knowing her new hobby is helping fight it, even if it's only one hive at a time.

"You have to start somewhere," she said. "It takes one person to start a change, something grassroots. That's just where you have to start with issues like this. You feel kind of a responsibility to do something about it. It's a little thing you can do that's part of a much bigger issue but it's really important because if we don't have any bees there's a lot of food that's not going to be produced."