The increasing popularity of beekeeping is leading to a business expansion in Grayson County. Kelley Beekeeping in Clarkson is investing $7.5 million and adding 50 new jobs to its current workforce of 90.
The 91-year-old company manufactures beekeeping products such as structures for hives, protective clothing and honey extraction equipment.
General Manager Sam Ruckriegel said there’s an increasing demand from a variety of customers.
"It is something you see more and more people getting into," said Ruckriegel. "We see it going into the retail market. We see what we call homesteading. A lot of people are getting into being self-sustaining, bees being part of that, the natural sugars that they generate, and the honey."
Kelley Beekeeping has a global market that includes North and South America and the Philippines. Ruckriegel said the increasing demand for beekeeping products may be due to a growing awareness of the declining bee population.
“There’s been a lot about the bees here lately, what we call colony collapse disorder. People are noticing that the bees are dying off and wanting to regenerate and bring them back," he said. "One thing we don’t realize is that if we lose the bees, we lose a lot of our food supply, in the area of produce.”
He said bees are necessary to pollinate much of the produce we consume.
Kelley Beekeeping is adding a new 80,000-square-foot building at its Clarkson headquarters. The additional 50 employees are expected to be hired over the next five years.