Beekeeping in Florida

Beekeeping

Honey bees and farmers have a very special relationship: bees collect nectar and pollen from flowering crops, and in return, the pollinated crops bear fruit. Because of their roles as pollinators, honey bees are critical to the success of many crops in the U.S.1  The decline of honey bee populations due to colony collapse disorder has made beekeeping all the more important to agricultural sustainability.2

Over the last ten years, renewed interest in bees has led to an increase in beekeeping in Florida. There are now nearly four thousand registered beekeepers in the state and more than half a million hives—which comes out to a lot of bees.3

Bees collect on a hive at the UF/IFAS Bee College. Credits: Mike Bently, UF/IFAS

Beekeeping can take several forms. A hobbyist may have just one or two colonies, but the commercial beekeeper may manage thousands of colonies.2 The UF/IFAS Bee College offers classes to anyone interested in beekeeping regardless of experience level.3 The UF/IFAS Master Beekeeper Program is a multi-year program in which experienced beekeepers can earn various levels of beekeeping certification.4

Want to see some Florida beekeeping in action and learn more about why bees are so important to agricultural sustainability? Check out this UF/IFAS video featuring UF/IFAS bee expert Dr. Jaime Ellis:


  1. J. D. Ellis, J. Klopchin, E. Buss, F. M. Fishel, W. H. Kern, C. Mannion, et al., Minimizing Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides, ENY162, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2014, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in1027
  2. Ashley N. Mortensen, Daniel R. Schmehl, and Jamie Ellis, European honey bee Apis mellifera Linnaeus, and subspecies (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Apidae), EENY568, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2013, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in1005
  3. Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, “UF/IFAS encourages Floridians to take up beekeeping, hosting annual Bee College March 4-5,” UF/IFAS News, 2016, http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2016/02/ufifas-encourages-floridians-to-take-up-beekeeping-hosting-annual-bee-college-march-4-5/
  4. James Ellis, Jerry Hayes, Catherine Zettel Nalen, William H. Kern, Ray Zerba, Brad Burbaugh, and Jeanette Klopchin, Florida Master Beekeeper Program Requirements, ENY155, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2013, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in847

Photo credits: Javier Edwards, UF/IFAS

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sgrenrock

sgrenrock

Web Writer at IFAS Communications

Sam is originally from California and has her BA in linguistics and MFA in poetry. She loves art, animals, culture, and learning about science.

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