Bee college is all the buzz
(Page 2 of 2)
Ellis estimates that about 70 percent of pollination is done by commercial beekeepers.Skip to next paragraph
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UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences aids both hobbyist and commercial beekeepers. By getting people interested in bee raising as a hobby, it's hoped some will then go into the commercial business.
Bee College gets newcomers started as well as providing advanced programs for those in the commercial end. When Ellis began the program last year, about 170 people turned out. This year there are between 220-230 in the program at UF's Whitney Labs across from Marineland.
But Bee College is no easy A.
Beginners find themselves doing hands-on work with bees along with learning the basics of beekeeping. Learning varies from spot the queen to artificial insemination of queens. Lab work includes nosema and tracheal mite dissections. Honey extraction, candlemaking, and even Welsh honey judge training are among courses offered over the two days.
Local vineyards said they were having problems with grapes. The more people he talked to about gardening, the more he found people had noticed the lack of beekeepers.
"So my wife and I decided to step in and attack the problem ourselves. I've got so much to learn, but this is pretty good," Mr. Hall said, as he headed over to get on of the beekeeper hats and learn firsthand how to set up a beehive.
Virginia and Carl Webb, on the other hand, qualify as experts. Both spoke at Bee College.
In 2005 their honey was awarded the "best in the world" designation at the 2005 Apimondia World Congress. Virginia Webb wears the medal they won for the designation from honey made from sourwood trees.
Carl Webb is an advocate and breeder of Russian bees and thinks they will help increase the genetic pool for queens. The Russian bee is a variation of the European honey bee and was introduced to a section of Russia 150 years ago. It has shown a resistance to mites.
After retiring from the Forestry Service, Webb turned the hobby he'd pursued into a full-time business. The couple own about 400 colonies and live in Clarksville, Ga.
Those who have eaten the honey at the Dillard House in Georgia have tasted their product.
"We sell them tons and tons of honey, and they ship it all over the country," Webb said.
And, yes, he does get stung. About 20 times a day. "Usually I hardly notice it," Webb said.
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