What’s All the Buzz About Bees?

The dwindling number of bees has a direct impact on the economy, which is what keeps state beekeepers like Tammy Horn going.
by | May 2015
Beekeeper Tammy Horn
Beekeeper Tammy Horn (Chris Radcliffe/EKU)

As Tammy Horn tells it, she got her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. before her real education began. It was 1997, and Horn had just graduated from the University of Alabama, when her grandfather introduced her to his bees. She was captivated. Eighteen years and two books on the subject later, Horn is now the state apiarist, otherwise known as beekeeper, for Kentucky. In her role, Horn is constantly traveling to assist other beekeepers throughout the state’s 120 counties. “My first priority is hive health and assessments,” she says, “and to document the losses.” The number of beehives in the U.S. has dropped from more than 5.5 million in 1950 to just over 2.6 million today. The dwindling number of bees has a direct impact on the economy, especially agribusiness, says Horn. To that end, she has been working with coal companies to restore former mine sites to their “natural bee-friendly state.” “A hive needs access to 252 million flowers to get through a year,” she says. Kentucky is one of at least 31 states that have a designated apiarist. Even though she’s been stung thousands of times, Horn says, “I have thoroughly enjoyed every day -- [even though] it never stops hurting.”

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