The UF Honey Bee Lab is constantly striving to improve our extension programs in an effort to be more effective and approachable to beekeepers across Florida. Because of this, we are making some significant changes to where and when we hold our Bee College events. The overall framework of each Bee College will remain the same, but in an effort to bring you better honey bee education, we are making some logistical changes. Please read the details below.
The main Bee College is moving locations
For a decade, the main (central, FL) Bee College has been held in March at the Whitney Lab in St. Augustine. This past spring, we officially outgrew that space with over 350 participants each day. In order to continue allowing Bee College to grow, we are relocating the main, central Bee College to Gainesville, FL, the home of the UF Honey Bee Lab. Moving forward, all central Florida Bee Colleges will be held in Gainesville, likely on UF’s campus. More details will come in 2018.
Reversing Bee College seasons
Historically, the UF Honey Bee Lab has held South Florida Bee College in August and the main, central Florida Bee College in March. Past attendees of these events can attest that they are usually associated with miserable weather for being in bee suits in an apiary. In south Florida we are melting; in St. Augustine, we had freezing rain and wind. For years, we have been asked to reverse these dates and this year we are making the change! Thus, moving forward, the main, central Bee College will be held each August and the other* Bee College will be held in March. *More details below.
Expanding to north Florida
Beekeepers in the Panhandle have, for years, been asking for a Bee College in north Florida. Starting in 2018, we are answering that call. Moving forward, each March we will rotate between a Bee College in the Panhandle and one in south Florida every other year. March 2018, we will hold the first ever Panhandle Bee College on March 23rd and 24th at Blountstown High School (18597 NE SR69, Blountstown, FL 32424). This, of course, also means that we will not have a South Florida Bee College again until March, 2019. Registration for Panhandle Bee College will be open by the end of the year.
Yes, we know this is a small town and that there are not hotels immediately nearby. There are, however, plenty of options for hotels just 20 min up the road and we will be starting Panhandle Bee College 30 min later than usual to allow everyone to make it to registration in plenty of time! Most importantly, in Blountstown, we have great support from both the high school and from UF/IFAS county extension. We have learned from experience that local support is crucial to the success of a Bee College. This does not, however, mean that Blountstown High School will be the permanent home of the Panhandle Bee College. We will try it on for size on 2018 and reassess in 2020.
Schedule of Future Bee Colleges
Panhandle Bee College
South Florida Bee College
Panhandle Bee College
If you have any questions or comments, join the conversation on our Facebook page.