It’s been a year since a large, well-known beekeeper died in the wild in central Pennsylvania, and now the beekeeping industry is trying to find a new leader.
Beekeepers in the area are scrambling to find someone to take on the new role as chief of the Pennsylvania beekeeping business.
John O’Hare, who owns the Beekeeper’s Museum in nearby Franklin, was on a break from his farm at the time of his death.
His last day on the job was Oct. 3, and he was leaving his farm to head back to work.
The beekeeper’s death comes at a time when beekeepers are having a hard time finding enough healthy workers to keep the state’s farms producing food and income.
“We’re a little worried,” said John Houlihan, executive director of the state Beekeepers Association, which is trying out a new beekeeper in the region.
Houliha said he’s seen a lot of changes since the late 1980s, when beekeeping was considered to be “the only industry in the country that could survive in a recession.”
Since then, beekeepers have seen the number of workers drop by about 50 percent.
Many have moved to other industries, such as food processing and apparel, while the number employed in agriculture has remained stable.
Houshihan said beekeepers need to be able to keep up with demand for their products.
But, he added, they also need to do it in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the environment.
“You have to make sure you’re not damaging the environment,” he said.
“So it’s about making sure you take care of the bees, that you don’t pollinate them, that it’s not pollinating them or damaging them, and that you’re protecting the land that you are working on.”
Houli said the state is going to have to do a better job keeping up with the challenges the beekeepers face.