The buzz of beekeeping growing in Washington County

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COAL RUN, Ohio (WTAP) - To some bees may be annoying but in reality, they play one of the biggest roles in our food supply.

Washington County bee inspector Michael DeVaughn gave the county commissioners a tour of bee colonies at Witten Farms to show them what it’s like inside a beehive and the vital part bees have in our ecosystem.

"Honeybees are only important if you like to eat," DeVaughn joked. "The most important thing about honeybees is not honey, it's all about pollination."

DeVaughn got into beekeeping back in 2008 when he noticed there weren’t many honeybees in his home garden. In 2013, he became a bee inspector for Washington county and now does inspections for five counties.

“Without pollination, we would have no fruits, vegetables would be limited," he added. "Honeybees are required to pollinate at least one-third of our food supply.”

Many people are afraid of bees or feel they're more of a nuisance. But DeVaughn says as the bee population has dropped over the last 10-15 years, more people are becoming interested in beekeeping as they learn more about how important they are to our environment.

"It’s very important for everyone to realize that we have to be bee friendly about the things that we use on our yard and garden," Wittens farm co-owner Tom Witten said. "These bees matter a great deal to the vegetable and fruit farms of Washington county."

There are now around 350 hives and 70 beekeepers in Washington County, a number DeVaughn says has grown since he took over as county inspector.