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Trumbull County looking for beehive inspector

Ohio law requires county to have registered apiary

WARREN — Trumbull County finds itself in a sticky situation as it has to find a licensed apiary inspector for approximately 121 registered bee hives across the county.

Commissioners are expected to vote on advertising for a registered apiary inspector, who will be responsible for inspecting bee hives for the 2024 bee season.

The county’s former apiary inspector, James Perry, informed the county he would not continue to do hive inspections in 2024. Perry had been doing hive inspections for about four years.

“My wife and I are expected to move to Illinois this summer,” Perry said. “I did not want to leave in the middle of the summer.”

Perry, 77, has been beekeeping for approximately 40 years after his first wife’s father introduced him to it.

“State law requires the county to have a registered apiary,” county Human Resources Director Alexandra DeVengencie-Bush said during Tuesday’s commissioner workshop.

Only one commissioner, Denny Malloy, attended the meeting, so there were not enough members to guarantee today’s vote on the advertisement.

Trumbull’s apiary inspector inspects honey bee colonies within the county to prevent the introduction, dissemination and establishment of honey bee diseases and pests.

The person applying for the position should have at least three years of beekeeping experience, good people skills and attention to detail.

The name of the new apiary inspector was supposed to be turned in to the Ohio Department of Agriculture by the end of today.

In 2021, Trumbull County had an estimated 131 apiaries, with 906 bee colonies, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture website. There are an average of seven colonies per apiary. Mahoning County had 150 apiaries, with 733 colonies, averaging five colonies per apiary.

There were 6,921 registered beekeepers in Ohio by the end of 2022, with 9,823 apiaries and 51,490 bee colonies, according to the ODA website.

State Law mandates annual registration of every yard containing bee hives. Sixteen of the state’s 88 counties do not have a person to do the bee hive inspections, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture website.

Trumbull’s apiary inspector will be paid $15 per hour for no more than $1,500. The inspector will be reimbursed for mileage at the IRS rate of $0.67 per mile. The inspector will work from April through the end of October.

“The inspector’s job is to make the hives healthy and make sure disease is not spreading in or out of the hives,” Bush said.

Apiary inspectors in Ohio look for ways to maintain the health of bee colonies, watching out for pests and diseases while educating beekeepers about proper bee management.

Bees and other pollinators are essential to the survival of more than 100 American crops, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ohio’s bee population suffered significant loss in the mid-1980s due to disease.

In the past 30 years, the number of bee colonies in the state has fallen from about 300,000 to 50,000, according to state agriculture department records.

An annual survey conducted by the nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership found that beekeepers across the U.S. lost 45.5% of their managed honey bee colonies from April 2020 to April 2021. In Ohio, it was 55.2%.

Perry said Trumbull County is not affected much by the various diseases that hurt bee populations in other areas of the state.

“We have been very fortunate,” Perry said.

He said there has been a steady growth in the number of beekeepers in the county.

“We have a lot of people with beehives in their backyards,” Perry said. “There are so many that I could not get to them all in one year. I tried to go to different areas of the county to get a representative sampling of the bee strength of the county.”

Perry said being the county’s aviary inspector takes time and dedication.

Bush said if the county cannot find an inspector, it can ask Mahoning County’s inspector to see if they’ll contract to do both areas.

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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