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Voices of UF/IFAS: Amy Vu

Name: Amy Vu

Position: Extension Coordinator

Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas

Years with UF/IFAS: 5

Describe your role at UF/IFAS
The University of Florida Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab (UF HBREL) is a national leader in honey bee research and education. Each year, we work with beekeepers, educators, regulators, and more to develop practical and accessible training for beekeepers in Florida and around the world. In my current role, I oversee the University of Florida Master Beekeeper Program, the University of Florida Bee Colleges, the UF IFAS Honey Bee Blog, Honey Judge Program, speaker requests, website, media inquiries, and more. I also lead a statewide Honey Bee Extension Education Team (HBEET) to focus on both small-scale and large-scale beekeeping operations.

How did your background/experiences shape your interest in your current field?
After a study abroad in Ecuador during my undergraduate studies, I became interested in food production (the entire system from start to finish). My undergraduate degree is in Agronomy, with an emphasis on Soils and Environmental Science and Natural Resources and Conservation. I moved onto do my graduate studies at Virginia Tech, and at that time, colleagues and I decided to apply for a grant to start keeping bees. We learned so much from our own hands-on experience and had a great mentor who led us to many educational resources. After completing my master’s in the Department of Agricultural Leadership and Community Education, I came down to Florida and became a UF/IFAS Extension Orange County Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator. My love for honey bees followed, as I started backyard honey bee programs in the Orlando area, and quickly became recognized for my beginner beekeeping classes. Since then, I have transitioned to my current position as the Extension Coordinator for the UF Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory and strive to do everything I can for the beekeepers in Florida and around the world.

Tell us your favorite bee fact:
There are so many fun honey bee facts, it’s hard to choose just one. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating over 120 agricultural crops in the United States, including almonds, blueberries, apples, cranberries, and broccoli, just to name a few. Also, did you know that drone (male) honey bees have a grandfather, but no father?

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I always tell everyone I have the best job in the world. I get to work with various beekeepers throughout the world, and every single day is different. I am surrounded by inspirational and creative leaders and colleagues, which makes the sky the limit!

What inspires you? OR What are your hobbies?
When I am not at the honey bee lab, I can be found cave diving and paddling in Florida’s freshwater springs, spending time with my partner and three dogs, and caring for my indoor and outdoor plants.