Honey bees have always played a vital role in agriculture and as such the department has overseen their inspection since House Bill 28 was approved on April 21, 1904. This long history has evolved as agriculture has changed across the state. Honey bees not only provide honey but are a vital source of pollination for many of the fruit and vegetable crops grown in Ohio such as apples, melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins. They are also used to pollinate seed and oil crops such as onion, carrot and broccoli plus sunflower and canola, respectively. The Apiary Program coordinates the state and county inspection services that help to ensure a healthy beekeeping industry.
By the end of the 2017 calendar year, 6,046 active beekeepers were registered with a total of 8,517 apiaries in accordance with Ohio Revised Code section 909.02 with an estimated 40,594 colonies.
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, in 2015 Ohio produced 850,000 pounds of honey averaging 50 pounds per colony. The Apiary Program works with several national groups and participates in a National Survey with the USDA to determine reasons for colony deaths, which occurs around the nation, including Ohio. The Program also cooperates with state and local groups to provide honey bee education and support for the efforts of beekeeping.