Jeff Drapalik of Wilmington stands in front of his backyard apiary. Drapalik is one of dozens of Clinton County residents who have turned to beekeeping either as a hobby or as a business. “I basically do weird things like this. I just saw it and I wanted to try it,” said Drapalik, whose day job is spent managing the finances at U.C. Health in Cincinnati. “I tell my kids, if it doesn’t hurt you, doesn’t hurt someone else and it’s not illegal, try it. So I tried it.”
As Clinton County aims to position itself as a leader in small-scale agriculture in southwest Ohio, more people here are turning to beekeeping and marketing of honey as a source of income. Across the country — and, for that matter, the world — beekeeping in general is rebounding from the effects of widespread bee colony collapse. The economic impact of declining honeybee pollination in the U.S. alone is staggering, between $8 billion and $12 billion to U.S. farmers, according to the U.S.D.A.
“The fact that the bees are so important to a global economy is kind of hard to wrap your head around,” Drapalik said. “They’re just doing what’s natural. I think it’s so phenomenal.”
Agriculture remains the biggest contributor to the regional economy in Clinton County, Ohio. This series highlights actors in the county’s local food economy, from farmers and restaurant owners to community gardeners and food pantry directors.
The photographer, John Cropper, is a Clinton County native, a journalist at the Wilmington News Journal and a fledgling gardener. He came to CoLab Radio via Energize Clinton County, which “grew out of a citizen movement to broaden participation in economic development, and regain control of our local economy.”