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What's the buzz on beekeeping in Utah?

A honeybee landing on a light pink flower with a yellow center.
Anna Johnson
It takes 12 honeybees like this one to make one teaspoon of honey.

Buzzing around, pollinating our flowers and vegetables, honeybees are hard at work.

“There are 50,000 or 60,000 bees in that hive in the summertime," Kirk Johnson said, gesturing to his beehive.

Johnson is one of the over one hundred thousand hobby beekeepers in the United States. He’s also my dad. He’s had a hive in our front yard for seven years.

“I get so much honey from this hive now, I really don’t need more than one. I get 150 to 200 pounds of honey,” he said, "It takes 12 bees most of their lives to make that teaspoon of honey.”

Bees collect nectar and pollen to bring back to the hive when they visit flowers in your garden. The color of the pollen determines the color and flavor of the honey, giving you variations from deep browns to pale golds — even when the honey comes from the very same hive.

USU Extension’s thriving hives program helps beginning beekeepers start their hives.

“We teach beginning beekeeping clear up through advanced beekeeping," JayDee Gunnell said.

He's a horticulture professor at the extension. Gunnell said having a beehive can improve your home's vegetable garden.

“My best gardening years were the times that I had bees that would help pollinate the crops,” Gunnell said.

Gunnell said USU Extension’s resources make starting a hive simple and having bees is a rewarding, if expensive hobby.

“Watching them work and come and go and they're they're amazing. They're just fascinating creatures. It's a very fun hobby,” he said.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.