UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The number of registered beekeepers in Illinois continues to rise.
According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, 700 more people registered as beekeepers in 2013. That bumps the total number of beekeepers in the state to more than 2,500 operating nearly 25,000 colonies.
The number of registered beekeepers has increased every year since 2002.
Grant Gillard maintains about 200 colonies across southeast Missouri.
He said it's a good thing the number of beekeepers in rising.
"Our population is a bunch of gray haired, aging, Caucasian males. We need a generational shift. Our professional and commercial beekeepers, they're just getting too old and too tired, and it's so much work," Gillard said.
Gillard said there's a need for more beekeepers to keep replenishing the number of bees that die off each year. He said the average beekeeper will lose about 30 percent of their bees each year.
Gillard has been maintaining bees since the early 1980s.
He said the number of beekeepers might be increasing because more people are aware of colony collapse disorder. Gillard said people are realizing the role bees play in pollinating crops.
Around 2,000 of the registered colonies in Illinois are located in Union County.