There are now signs that things may be turning around.
Reports from New York state and elsewhere around the country indicate 2012 looks like it could be the best honeybee year in a long while. The New York Times recently reported a doubling in the number of reports of swarming bees looking for new homes in Manhattan of all places.
Ted Jones, president of the Connecticut Beekeepers Association for the past 12 years, says he's seen a surge in the number of people in this state who have begun keeping bees. He says membership in his organization has doubled in recent years, up from about 150 beekeepers before 2006 to about 300 today.
Stephen Sandrey, an inspector with the agricultural station for the past 31 years, says there are now 1,015 registered beekeepers in Connecticut who list ownership of 5,463 hives.
Connecticut has a long-standing law requiring beekeepers to register with the state, but not everyone knows about that law or complies with it, according to Magnarelli. There are also wild honeybee colonies out there.
An average hive generally has 50,000 to 60,000 bees in it, according to the experts.
One aspect to this upswing in interest in honeybees in Connecticut is that many of the new beekeepers are women.
"We used to have about six women [in the Connecticut Beekeepers Association]," Jones says, "and now we probably have 60 women."
Nizet is a part of that new female beekeeping contingent.
"I got my bees last year in May," she says, explaining that she became intrigued with the idea of beekeeping after helping one of her neighbors out with her hives. That neighbor was Andrea Azarm, a former vice president of the Back Yard Beekeepers Association.
"I have just one hive because I have a resistant husband," says Nizet. "He was worried about having 60,000 bees in our backyard." As it turns out, not a single honeybee has even hit the screen of their back door and no one's been stung at all. "They're only interested in the flowers," she laughs.
Of course, the interest in beekeeping isn't just about saving the bee population and the world's agricultural system. "I think I have about 30 pounds of honey so far this year," Nizet says. "It's been a good year because we didn't have a very hard winter."
There's apparently been something like a beekeeping chain reaction going on in places like Fairfield, which has the most registered beekeepers (20) of any town in Connecticut.
Azarm got Nizet into it, and now Nizet is helping another neighbor get interested.
And, wouldn't you know it, that neighbor's spouse is also raising some objections.
"Her husband is also afraid of being stung," she says with a chuckle. "There are some difficult issues with the husbands."