Few beneficial insects are as conspicuous as the honeybee, a critical crop pollinator and common garden visitor. So it's no surprise that gardening and beekeeping make a sweet marriage. Hobby beekeepers can get started with a single hive and colony for as little as $175. The N.C. Master Beekeeper Program, the largest program of its kind in the United States, offers instruction free to any North Carolina resident interested in bees, whether for fun or for profit. For more information, contact your Cooperative Extension office or visit www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/apiculture. Another source of assistance is the N.C. State Beekeepers Association (www.ncbeekeepers.org), which has chapters in 78 counties and offers courses statewide.