Beekeepers from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and as far away as Iowa, gathered at the Blountstown High School in Calhoun County Florida, for the 25th Annual UF/IFAS Bee College!

During Calhoun County Florida’s spring break, 160 beekeepers from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and as far away as Iowa, gathered at the Blountstown High School for the 25th Annual UF/IFAS Bee College!  Participants at this event learned from local, state, national, and international experts about the latest research and management tools for beekeeping.  This event had never been held before in the Panhandle!

Because of sustained local interest and strong inter-agency partnerships, the UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory decided to conduct one of their three annual Bee College events in the Florida Panhandle beginning this year.  Mary Bammer, Extension Coordinator for the UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab, states, “Beekeepers in the Panhandle have, for years, been asking for a Bee College in north Florida.  Starting in 2018, we are answering that call.”

The Bee College is a two day event with classes for every skill level.  Participants at the Panhandle Bee College were provided information on beekeeping skills, honeybee behavior, bee health, pest and disease management, selling hive products, native bees, and pollination.  These classes included hands-on beekeeping demonstrations in the bee yard, where students gathered around hives to learn about beekeeping best management practices. Additionally, Bee College hosts a Honey Judging show where participants were encouraged to enter their honey, hive products, art and more.

UF/IFAS Entomologist Dr. Jamie Ellis speaking at one of the concurrent sessions at Bee College. Photo by Judy Biss

Beekeeping is fascinating and is for everyone no matter your age! At each Bee College there is a series of classes set aside for Junior Beekeepers.

One of the unique aspects of Bee College is the hands-on training, as well as the opportunity to interact directly with the state’s top experts on beekeeping. Photo by Judy Biss

Honeybees and pollinators are an incredibly integral part of producing the food you eat, and learning about how to best manage them is an equally important, and ongoing process.  To that end, the UF/IFAS Bee College team extends much appreciation to all program sponsors (listed below), especially local support, without which this program could not have occurred.  We are grateful for the Calhoun County School Board, Superintendent Ralph Yoder, and Principal Debbie Williams for allowing us use of the Blountstown High School (BHS) campus during spring break, BHS staff, Steve Jackson, David Simpson, and Samantha Taylor, for being on call and always available to help before, during, and after the event, and BHS Ag Teacher, Charles Williams, and the FFA Students for organizing a delicious lunch and helping speakers in each of the classrooms.

In-between classes, participants had the opportunity to talk to a number of vendors on site. There were informational booths such as the Florida Beekeeping Association, USDA, UF/IFAS, as well as vendors with a wide range of Beekeeping related products. Photo by Judy Biss

The Bee College will rotate each year with the South Florida Bee College, so the Panhandle Bee College will be back in this region in 2020.  In the meantime, the UF/IFAS Beekeeping in the Panhandle Team will continue to provide local educational beekeeping programs such as the annual Workshop and Trade-show in Chipley, FL.   If you are interested in learning more about managing honeybees or native pollinators, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension County Office for more information, or see the following links:


UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab


Judy Biss