Somehow, I have found myself on the apiary beat here at The Spoon. This despite my turning into a flailing, cowering wildman at the sight (or buzz) of one. Regardless of my grade school-level fear of getting stung, I recognize how important bees are to our food system, which is why it’s exciting to see two new ways people can bring beehives to their own backyards.

You’ve probably heard the buzz on bees by now: Seventy out of every 100 human food crops are pollinated by bees. In the U.S., bees pollinate 130 agricultural plants, and bee pollination is worth more than $9 billion to U.S. agriculture. And, oh yeah, bees are dying off. Where the U.S. once had six million bee colonies in the 1960s, we now have less than 3 million.

So bees need to make a comeback. To help, MOM’s Organic Market in Maryland is selling a starter beehive. Food Dive reports that the local grocery chain has partnered with Richland Honey Bees to sell a queen bee and nucleus hive (a hive in a box). The starter kits are available online, cost $185 and Maryland residents can pick theirs up at one of four local MOM’s shops there.

If you’re looking for an even more low-tech solution to starting up a beehive, head over to Amazon and pick up Turn This Book Into a Beehive. It’s written by Lynn Brunelle, who used to be a writer for Bill Nye the Science Guy, and is filled with facts and activities about bees. But the big selling point, as the title spells out, is that you can turn it into a beehive by tearing out perforated pages, rolling them up and enclosing them in the book’s jacket and hanging it outside.

While this paper-based solution may not be as high-tech as the Nectar hive sensors, it seems like a good way to assist the pollination process in your own backyard, especially as we head into vegetable gardening season.

Of course, if you are interested in getting more into beekeeping, you should check with your local laws to ensure that your city allows it.

Turning a book into a beehive has turned into my next weekend family project. Thankfully I’ll have my grade school son there to help me get over my elementary fears.

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