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Survey says: Beekeeping emerges as a top Va. hobby

Others near the top range from mushroom cultivation to falconry

As we usher in the New Year, the spotlight often shines on tried-and-true resolutions like embarking on fitness journeys, embracing a month of sobriety, or setting ambitious career milestones. Yet, intriguing shifts are surfacing in our quest for personal growth and fulfilment.

A five-year Google search analysis reveals a burgeoning curiosity for unconventional pastimes. Americans are turning towards eclectic hobbies, with searches for activities such as aquarium keeping, home brewing, beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, and letterboxing climbing the charts.

To gauge shifting trends in interests and hobbies for the New Year, carried out a survey of 3,000 respondents to unearth which hobbies people would most like to adopt in 2024, with some interesting results!

#1 Beekeeping
Sweet News... The most popular hobby Virginians intend on pursuing in 2024 is beekeeping. It's like being a guardian of a tiny, buzzing kingdom, where you get to don a cool suit and peek into the fascinating world of honeybees. It’s not just about getting your own delicious honey (though that’s a big plus!), it’s also about helping these little pollinators thrive, which in turn brightens up your garden. At its core, beekeeping involves the care and management of honeybee colonies, often in man-made hives. What makes it particularly appealing is the deep connection it fosters with the natural world, allowing hobbyists to play a direct role in supporting the health and productivity of these essential pollinators. The process of inspecting hives, managing bee health, and harvesting honey provides a hands-on experience that is both educational and therapeutic. 

#2 Aquascaping or Aquarium Keeping
Aquascaping or aquarium keeping emerged as the second most popular in the Old Dominion. Aquarium keeping as a hobby involves creating and maintaining an aquatic environment for various types of fish and aquatic plants. Enthusiasts dedicate time and resources to setting up aquariums that replicate natural habitats, ensuring the right balance of water temperature, pH levels, and cleanliness. This hobby is not just about aesthetics; it also requires knowledge of the biological and chemical processes to keep the aquatic ecosystem thriving. Aquascaping, on the other hand, is the art and craft of arranging aquatic plants, as well as rocks, stones, cavework, or driftwood, in an aesthetically pleasing manner within an aquarium—in effect, gardening under water. This practice focuses on creating a beautiful landscape or underwater scene, often inspired by terrestrial environments. 

#3 Falconry
Falconry took the 3rd position. Falconry is like stepping into a high-flying adventure where you become teammates with the kings of the sky! It is the art and sport of training birds of prey, particularly falcons, hawks, and eagles, to hunt wild animals in their natural state and habitat. This ancient practice dates back thousands of years and has been revered as a symbol of nobility and tradition across many cultures. In falconry, the falconer develops a close bond and partnership with the bird. The process involves training the bird to respond to commands, often using a lure or bait, and to return to the falconer after hunting. 

#4 Lapidary 
In fourth place among Virginians is Lapidary, which is the art of cutting and polishing stones. Imagine taking a rough, unassuming piece of rock and transforming it into a sparkling gem or an intricate piece of jewelry. This hobby is a delightful mix of geology and creativity, perfect for anyone who loves to get their hands dirty while also unleashing their inner artist. Lapidary isn't just about crafting beautiful objects; it's an adventure in discovering the hidden beauty of the natural world, one stone at a time. 

#5 Metal detecting
Metal detecting emerged as the fifth most popular. Metal detecting is the activity of using a metal detector to search for metallic objects buried underground. This hobby is popular among people of all ages and is often pursued in various environments like beaches, parks, old homesites, and historical areas. It's like being a modern-day treasure hunter, exploring and piecing together stories from the past. Metal detecting enthusiasts often form a friendly and engaging community, sharing tips, stories, and their finds. 

#6 Homebrewing
Homebrewing came in 6th place. Homebrewing, the craft of making your own beer at home, is an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable hobby for those who love creativity and experimentation in the kitchen. In homebrewing, you call the shots and the flavors! It's a playground for the taste buds, where every batch is an exciting experiment. And the best part? Sharing your bubbly creations with friends and family, watching their faces light up with that first sip.

#7 Astrophotography
Astrophotography took the seventh spot on the list. This hobby takes you on a celestial journey, right from your backyard or a dark sky spot, offering a front-row seat to the universe's grandeur. It's perfect for those who marvel at the night sky and have a passion for photography, blending technical skill with creative expression. Astrophotography is the practice of photographing astronomical objects, celestial events, and areas of the night sky. This specialized form of photography is dedicated to capturing images of the stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae, and other celestial phenomena.

#8 Toy Voyaging
Toy voyaging, in 8th, is the whimsical hobby where you send your favorite toys on epic adventures around the world! It's like giving your toys a passport to a world of fun and discovery. Toy voyaging is a creative and heartwarming pastime that combines travel, storytelling, and nostalgia. You can connect with other toy voyagers worldwide, swapping toys and tales of their journeys. It's a way to inject a dose of magic and imagination into your everyday life, turning the world into a playground for your beloved toys. 

#9 Foraging
Foraging is the 9th most popular hobby in 2024 in Virginia. Imagine wandering through forests, meadows, and along riverbanks, your eyes peeled for hidden culinary treasures like wild berries, mushrooms, herbs, and greens. Foraging is not just about finding food; it's a journey into understanding local ecosystems and developing a deep respect for the environment. The thrill of identifying and collecting your own wild edibles is matched only by the joy of cooking them into delicious, natural meals. This hobby appeals to nature lovers, culinary enthusiasts, and anyone who appreciates the simple pleasure of connecting with the earth and enjoying its bountiful, wild offerings.

#10 Urban Exploration
Urban Exploration (urbex) is an adventurous hobby that involves exploring abandoned or hidden urban structures, such as old buildings, factories, tunnels, and other man-made spaces. Urbex enthusiasts use photography to document their discoveries, capturing the atmosphere and stories that these locations hold. The appeal of urban exploration lies in the sense of curiosity, adventure, and the thrill of the unknown. It offers a unique perspective on urban history and decay, allowing participants to connect with the past and reflect on the passage of time. 

Other popular hobbies for Virginians in 2024 are:

#11 Lockpicking
Lockpicking is the ultimate puzzle-solving adventure that lets you become a real-life locksmith magician! It's a thrilling blend of dexterity and brainpower that rewards patience and precision. The satisfaction of that satisfying click as the lock surrenders has been described as a high like no other.

#12 Mushroom Cultivation
Mushroom cultivation is the art of turning spores into savory delights in your own space. Whether you're a foodie or just love a delicious challenge, it's a magical mix of science and culinary creativity. 

#13 Glass Blowing
Glass blowing is the mesmerizing art of transforming molten glass into intricate, one-of-a-kind creations through skilled manipulation.

#14 Geocaching
Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity that combines elements of treasure hunting and exploration. Participants use a GPS receiver or mobile device to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches," at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. Each cache, often a small waterproof box, contains a logbook for finders to sign and sometimes trinkets for trading.

#15 Bookbinding
Bookbinding is the timeless art of turning stacks of loose pages into beautifully crafted, hand-bound books. It’s like sculpting stories into tangible works of art.

#16 Letterboxing
Letterboxing is a thrilling treasure hunt that combines outdoor adventure with puzzle-solving. Armed with clues and a sense of curiosity, you'll embark on quests to discover secret letterboxes tucked away in scenic spots.

#17 Radio controlled vehicles
Radio-controlled (RC) vehicles as a hobby involve building, operating, and sometimes racing miniature vehicles that are controlled remotely. These vehicles can include a wide variety of types, such as cars, trucks, drones, airplanes, helicopters, and boats. Hobbyists often invest time and money into purchasing and customizing their RC vehicles, upgrading components like the motor, battery, and chassis to improve performance and durability.

#18 Blacksmithing
Blacksmithing is the sizzling art of forging metal into masterpieces. Whether you're crafting jewelry or powerful blades, it's a captivating blend of skill and art, where you make sparks fly and creativity flow.

#19 Model Railroading
Model railroading is like being the station manager of your own tiny trains, creating scenic landscapes and watching them come to life. Whether you're a history buff or an artistic soul, this hobby blends creativity with precision.

Interactive map showing each state’s top alternative hobby for 2024

"As we step into 2024, we're seeing a remarkable shift towards alternative hobbies that reflect a blend of creativity, sustainability, and technology. People are embracing pastimes that reconnect them with nature, enhance their skills, and bring joy through hands-on engagement. From the precision of beekeeping to the artistry of aquascaping, these hobbies offer a counterbalance to our digital lives, promising enrichment and a sense of community in the most unexpected of pursuits,” says Katherine Morgan of