Hill, however, considers himself lucky. He was able to produce his own beehives and started selling them, as a way of getting around the lack of imports from abroad. But, others in the industry have not had the same fate, he said.
This year, in particular, the value and demand for honey has increased, but without bees, producing honey can be a difficult feat.
“This is the boom year that you are going to miss if you don’t have the number of your hives where you would like them to be,” he said,
The ups, downs, isolation and unpredictability that come with being a beekeeper took their toll on Hill’s mental health. He has talked a lot about his struggles on his Instagram account, Smokey Beekeeper.
“Farming is a very stressful vocation because you risk so much, all the time. I don’t expect people who don’t work in the industry to understand this, but we run really high every year. We try very hard, and so if we don’t get feedback, it will really affect your results and our future, really. We don’t work for someone else, we are our own employers, ”he said.
At present, he said many farmers are caught between producing honey and maintaining the number of beehives. Balancing the two can be a very slippery slope, but it’s a tough decision many beekeepers will have to make this season, according to Hill.
“I think the public really needs to know that this is a very serious situation because beekeepers are, I would kind of like to think of pollination custodians and if we lose, and I I’ve seen it happen, some multigenerational beekeeping families, you lose a lot of knowledge, when you lose people like that out of the industry.