Breaking News
More () »

Backyard amateur beekeeping on the rise, including in San Diego County

Local beekeepers rave about the environmental benefits and the personal joy in growing the bee population from home.

LA MESA, Calif. — Between climate change, pesticides, and habitat loss, the honeybee population around the world has collapsed. But many are stepping up to give the bees a place to land as backyard beekeeping gains traction.

Let's face it. Bees have a reputation problem. They’re nosy, pesky to some, and may even sting you if you’re not careful. But, they also have been called by some researchers the most important living beings on the planet. It’s no surprise that around the world, including in San Diego, amateurs have an interest in having some of their own.

“There’s very little that you have to do for the bees," Lynn Lunceford, an amateur beekeeper out of La Mesa, told us. "You have to watch and make sure that they are not getting too big for their locations because then you might need to add another box to your hive, or that they’re not declining in some ways that something is wrong. But otherwise, you don’t mess with them that much because you don’t wanna disturb them. But I go outside and look at them every day. I think it’s fun to watch them.” 

Lynn and her husband live in La Mesa and have had several hives in their backyard, coexisting with them and their dogs for over a year. Lynn says the Italian bees she keeps are more gentle and friendly than many think.

"If we went over and started shaking the hive, they’d be upset and come out, but if I leave them alone for the most part, they’re gonna leave me alone," she added.

Lynn saw our coverage of the bee population getting help from the recent heavy rain in the winter and invited me out to see for myself what backyard beekeeping was like. 

And while it may look like a fun time, and it is, there’s still a lot to know when it comes to keeping bees yourself at home. That’s where Joseph comes in, Lynn’s mentor, who made a business out of beekeeping.

“Doing some research, I got hooked up with a nonprofit trying to get disabled veterans into beekeeping and then thought, 'You know, this sounds like something I want to do,'” said Joseph Erskine, a local urban farmer.

While the effects of amateur beekeeping on the overall bee population have yet to be published, there’s a ton of research to support these little creatures being responsible for pollinating about 80 percent of all flowering plants, according to the Department of Agriculture. 

"I have over 40 varieties of fruit trees in my little front yard, and I get so much more fruit off of my trees because I have the bees right there on the scene," Joseph added.

There are also the gooey benefits of the fresh honey made by those worker bees. "I told him he could have the honey, and then I was like, no, this is my honey," Lynn joked with CBS 8.

The City of San Diego does not require a permit to keep bees in your backyard, but you must register your hives and follow regulations on where and how many you can have. You’re also asked to complete a course on it. But the rewards? Well, Lynn and Joseph say there are many. 

We asked Joseph what made the process so therapeutic for many. "That’s a great question. I don’t know what it is, but something works with the bees. When you’re calm and collected, and you’re moving through a hive with a purpose, they're mellow; they’re not doing anything. Then if you’re not -- you drop a frame or bang a frame -- things go south really quick, which reminds me of the old military days."

You can learn more about beekeeping in San Diego County by visiting their website here.

WATCH RELATED: Learning about our planet

Before You Leave, Check This Out