What’s Growing On: The Buzz on Beekeeping in NCFL

Local beekeeper explains the hurdles to sustaining this very important pollinator.
Local beekeeper explains the hurdles to sustaining this very important pollinator.
Updated: May. 25, 2023 at 8:00 PM EDT
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WALDO, Fla. (WCJB) - Beekeeping has long been recognized as a vital component of agricultural ecosystems, playing a crucial role in pollination and the production of thousands of crops. However, in recent years, challenges such as habitat loss and climate change have threatened nearly every honey bee population in the world.

Owner, Kyle Straughn of Straughn Farms in Waldo tells us, ““One of our biggest challenges in Alachua County but really all across the United States is habitat.”

An increase in human population is a big limiting factor when it comes to honey bee colony growth.

“And that land that has been put aside, that’s some crucial habitat for us. And we’re losing it every day to development and foreign investors and just in the last couple of years I’ve lost a hundred thousand acres of leased land for bees.”, Straughn.

But habitat isn’t the only factor though. Weather, and it’s variability plays a key part in everything from production to harvesting.

Honey bees are adaptable but are also very particular when it comes to what they need to pollinate.

“They need it to be warm enough that they’ll fly, above 50 degrees, sun shining and wind not blowing to hard.”, Straughn.

The success of honey bee production is a testament to the resilience and dedication of beekeepers, who tirelessly work to ensure the health and longevity of their colonies.

And at the University of Florida there is collaboration with local beekeeping associations to raise awareness about the challenges faced by beekeepers and the importance of preserving honeybee populations. Educational workshops and outreach programs are being organized to empower beekeepers with knowledge and techniques to adapt to changing conditions.

As the beekeeping community navigates these uncertain times, the hope is that collaborative efforts between scientists, beekeepers, and the community will help safeguard honey production and the critical role that bees play in pollination and ecosystem health in North Central Florida.

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