Eighth annual UF Bee College event returns March 6-7

A bee on a sunflower.  Helianthus annuus, annuals, honey bees, insects, pollination.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s sweetest event for all things honey bee is set for March 6-7, University of Florida officials announced this week.

The University of Florida’s Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory has organized and hosted the UF Bee College since 2008 for hobbyists, professionals and anyone interested in maintaining a healthy honey bee population. The event will be held at the UF Whitney Marine Laboratory in Marineland, Fla.

Maintaining a healthy honey bee population is critical to human health. A worldwide honeybee die-off began to be reported around the U.S. in 2006. Called Colony Collapse Disorder by scientists, it leads honeybees to abandon their hives, become ill and die. Researchers have been working to pin down a cause. Bee pollination is critical for much of the food we eat and some estimates suggest the U.S. bee industry is responsible for pollinating as much as $15 billion worth of crops every year.

Everyone is welcome to attend Bee College, a two-day event with classes for all ages and experience levels – from novice to seasoned beekeeper.  This year’s schedule includes more than 50 classes. The Bee College Honey Show, the state’s largest competition of its kind, includes 20 entry classes, from comb honey, to extracted honey, and even beekeeping gadgets. See www.ufhoneybee.com for rules.

Special guest speakers include Dr. Deborah Delaney of the University of Delaware and Dr. Thomas Seeley of Cornell University. The entomologists are considered experts in honey bees, chemical ecology, pesticides and pest management.

The Junior Bee College, an all-day event on Saturday, March 7th, is open to children ages 6 through 16; kids will learn everything from basic entomology and bee biology to practical beekeeping through hands-on, fun, interactive, games and lessons.

Bee College attendees have their choice of a minimum of five class options at any given time of the day. Courses cover basics, such as setting up an apiary to more complicated topics, such as making beekeeping a business. Many classes are hands on and take participants into lab settings to detect honeybee diseases or teach participants the laws that govern honey bottling, labeling and sales in Florida.

Participants must register by March 4 at http://2015beecollege.eventbrite.com/. For all other details about the event, please visit www.UFhoneybee.com.

The cost is $135 per person to attend for one day or $185 for two days. Family and other discount rates are offered.

By Kimberly Moore WIlmoth, 352-294-3302, k.moore.wilmoth@ufl.edu

Contact: Emily Helton, 352-273-3932, heltone@ufl.edu

Photo caption: A bee on a sunflower. Helianthus annuus, annuals, honey bees, insects, pollination. UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.