When people think of livestock, honeybees may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Bees are, however, a very significant part of agriculture. It is estimated that 30% of the crops we use for food are pollinated by honeybees. That’s around $15 billion of crops! On top of that, these hardworking insects also produce honey, wax, and other products that we can use.
For those who want to get into the world of beekeeping, it can be a challenge to absorb all the information that’s out there. Thankfully, there are resources out there to assist. If you or someone you know are interested in apiculture, you might try:
Online resources. The University of Florida (UF) publishes research-based information in its EDIS publications. For topics relating to beekeeping specifically, you can go here: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/entity/topic/beekeeping. From there you can find links to specific publications, such as the Florida Beekeeping Management Calendar and much more. UF also has a Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab with online resources about their Master Beekeeper program and Bee College at https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/honey-bee/.
The American Beekeeping Federation maintains a website with tons of information on beekeeping at https://www.abfnet.org/. From there you can join the federation, find local groups, and find nationwide educational opportunities and resources for beekeepers.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) requires beekeepers to register hives. You can find information on that here: https://www.fdacs.gov/Agriculture-Industry/Bees-Apiary/Apiary-Inspection. This site has a lot of extra information on beekeeping and links to other resources as well!
Local Resources. While digital sources of information can help, nothing can take the place of simply having other beekeepers to go to for answers. Local beekeeping organizations are a great place to start. Listed by county, here are some from across the panhandle:
|County / Counties||Organization||Meeting dates / times|
|Escambia||Escarosa Beekeepers Association||2nd Tues. / month at 7 pm.|
|North Escambia Bee Association||2nd Mon. / month at 7 pm.|
|Santa Rosa||Santa Rosa Beekeepers Association||3rd Thurs. / month at 7 pm.|
|Okaloosa||Tri-County Beekeepers Association||Last Tues. / month at 6:30 pm.|
|Walton||New association forming now!||TBD. Contact Walton County Extension for info – (850) 892-8172|
|Holmes / Washington||Central Panhandle Beekeepers Assn.||1st Mon. / month at 6 pm.|
|Bay||Tupelo Beekeepers Association||2nd Mon. / month at 6 pm.|
|Jackson||Chipola Beekeepers||3rd Mon. / month at 6 pm.|
|Leon / Jefferson / Wakulla / Gadsden||Apalachee Beekeepers Association||2nd Tues. / month at 6:30 pm.|
As always, your local Extension office is available for help as well. Happy beekeeping!