Did you know that one-third of the food we eat in the US comes from crops pollinated by honeybees? Crops such as apples, almonds, broccoli, melons, and squash rely on honeybees for pollination, which adds more than $15 billion in added crop value. Additionally, honeybees of course also supply us with another more direct product – honey! In 2019, honeybees in the US created 157 million pounds of honey for us to enjoy.
For these reasons, it is very important to support the production and health of our honeybee colonies. Thankfully, in the Big Bend Region, we have the Apalachee Beekeepers Association (ABA). The ABA is an all-volunteer group whose mission is to support honeybees and educate the public about their importance. Membership encompasses all beekeepers – from backyard hobbyists to commercial beekeepers – in the North Florida and South Georgia region.
Throughout the pandemic, the ABA has not slowed in its support for honeybees. They have continued to hold monthly educational meetings – now in a Zoom format – covering various topics related to honeybee health and production. From honeybee nutrition, bloom succession, swarm management, honey extraction, and many other topics, the ABA helps educate its members and the public all about what it takes to raise honeybees successfully.
Along with the monthly educational Zoom meetings, the ABA volunteers continue to hold outdoor open hive events for the community, and the Apalachee Beekeepers Association website contains a wealth of information. On the website you can find out about upcoming meetings and events, read helpful posts on the Apalachee Beekeepers blog, start a discussion or ask questions using their active online forum, find local equipment dealers and educational resource links, learn about the benefits of becoming a member and access member services, and much more. Additionally, the ABA has a very active Facebook group, which helps members troubleshoot issues with their hives and allows them to easily share their beekeeping experiences.
UF/IFAS Extension has been very fortunate to be able to partner with the ABA on many activities throughout the years, including open hive field days, short-courses, lectures, and 4-H camps. One recent example is the ABA’s guest appearance during the 4-H Plant Science Camp, at the Leon County Extension Office over the summer.
Volunteers with the ABA taught the youth in the day camp all about the importance of bees for pollination. The youth then got to adorn themselves with beekeeping veils and watch the bees in action. The ABA volunteers opened the hive, allowed the youth to explore the various components of the hive, and identified the queen.
The dedication of the ABA in educating the youth and overall community is what will keep our local honeybee populations strong and foster the next generation of beekeepers.
Interested in finding out more about the ABA or how to become a member? Visit the Apalachee Beekeepers Association website.