LAYTON -- Thousands of honeybees buzzing around their hive is a sight that terrifies most people, but for backyard beekeeper Scott Waters it evokes feelings of fascination and awe.
"There are some days I just go out there and sit and watch them come in with their pollen. I watch them come in and out. It's amazing," he said.
Waters was first introduced to beekeeping by three co-workers who practiced the hobby.
In 2009 there were three backyard beekeepers at his workplace. That number has since increased to eight.
According to James Barnhill, the agricultural agent for Weber and Morgan counties for Utah State University Extension Service, the interest in backyard beekeeping has significantly increased during the past several years. In response, he began offering a seminar three times a year.
"People are more interested in being self-sufficient; in producing gardens and raising fruit," said Barnhill.
Barnhill also indicated that many people are concerned about the loss of bees, and want to do their part to bring them back.
Beekeeping provides people with a hobby that both entertains and supports their family, he said.
Waters learned the basics of beekeeping by reading a book and attending Barnhill's seminars. He also relied on the resources and advice of his co-workers, who had been practicing for years.
Waters lives in a typical suburban neighborhood, at 335 S. 750 East, in Layton. He installed the hive in the back of his vegetable garden, which is less than 20 feet from his children's swing set.
His children have never been stung, he said.
Beekeeping season begins in the spring. Bee boxes, as well as packaged bee colonies, can be purchased from local bee supply stores. Beekeepers harvest the honey in the late summer or early fall, leaving enough honey in the hive for the bees to survive the winter.
Waters started with one hive of bees his first summer. That colony thrived and produced about 10 gallons of honey. His family of five used that honey for more than a year, and even had enough to give as neighborhood gifts at Christmas time.
Waters added another hive to his garden the next summer. Those two hives produced 11 gallons of honey.
This year, he said he'll be surprised to get five gallons from his two hives.
"This has been a strange year with weather and as wet as it was," he said. "The bees have had to eat their supply instead of store it."
Cathy Waters, Scott's wife, praised the benefits of eating locally grown honey.
Before they had their own honey, she took allergy medication to minimize her seasonal allergies. She says a tablespoon of their honey each day works just as well as the medication.
She claims that ingesting the local pollen the bees have turned into honey works to vaccinate her body against the allergies.
And, she said, "Our fruits, vegetables and flowers bloom bigger and brighter because of the bees."