Central Ohio residents who want to keep busy with bees can take part in a Feb. 4 program in Upper Arlington.

Central Ohio residents who want to keep busy with bees can take part in a Feb. 4 program in Upper Arlington.

"The Secret Life of Bees" from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road, is a first for the city's Lifelong Learning & Leisure program.

LLL program coordinator Deb Mosely said she's offering the course after observing a growing popularity in beekeeping, but also because members of the community suggested such a workshop.

"Through the last few years, we've had several people ask about beekeeping," Mosely said. "Under the guise of the LLL dabbler -- people who like to find out about different things but don't have a huge amount of time to devote to it right away -- it seemed like a Beekeeping 101 program would work."

Over the last four or five years, the Central Ohio Beekeepers Association has seen its membership grow to about 600 members. COBA President Rod Pritchard said his organization has gone from offering beekeeping classes twice a year to four times a year.

"There is a rise in the number of people who live in urban areas who are interested in keeping bees," Pritchard said. "That's a national trend, and it goes into the 'local food' movement or the 'buy local' movement.

"For us, it's almost doubled in terms of training new beekeepers every year."

According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the number of beekeepers statewide grew from 3,865 in 2010, to 4,840 in 2015. Likewise, the number of bee apiaries has grown in that time from 5,838 to 6,578, and the number of bee colonies in the state has risen from 32,153 to 36,247.

The beekeeping boost is a boon for those "local" movements, Pritchard and COBA Treasurer Barry Conrad said, because honeybees are among the most effective pollinators known to man.

In addition to discussing some virtues of beekeeping, including producing natural honey and how to get started in the hobby, the Feb. 4 program will provide information about how prospective beekeepers can learn more about starting their own hives.

That being said, Upper Arlington residents interested in becoming beekeepers need to have somewhere outside the city to practice the hobby because beekeeping is prohibited in the city.

The workshop will be led by Conrad, a former Clintonville resident and owner of Conrad Camera who moved to Canal Winchester about three decades ago to "get away to the country."

As part of his pursuit of the quiet life, Conrad sought to start a fruit orchard, and quickly discovered he needed a colony of bees to pollinate his trees.

In time, he found the bees were more interesting than his orchard, and that led him to open Conrad Hive and Honey, a full-service beekeeping supply store.

"Basically, we're just going to go through a little bit about bees, what's involved in beekeeping and teaching people the importance of bees," he said of the LLL seminar. "About one-third of everything we eat is dependent upon honeybee pollination.

Conrad said he also plans to discuss a worldwide shortage of honeybees, which he said has been attributed to an enemy mite and man-made toxins in the air.

Information also will be shared on how to enroll in COBA's more comprehensive beekeeping classes and how to procure beehives.

Conrad said those who take up beekeeping frequently enjoy making candles or food from the byproducts of their hobby.

"A good hive, in a good average year, could get you 30 to 50 pounds of honey," he said. "That beats buying sugar and it's much healthier for you."

The cost to participate in the workshop is $22 for Upper Arlington residents, $26 for non-residents.

Anyone interested in the program can sign up or receive more information through the city website, uaoh.net. Its class number is 441104.

Mosely said registration for the class can be secured through Feb. 3 and can be completed by calling Upper Arlington LLL at 614-583-5333.