Residents treated to buzzing experience at UF “Bee College”

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-- You could say it’s “all the buzz”! Get it? The University of Florida is looking to teach local residents about beekeeping and the many ways the fuzzy insects benefit our environment.

On Monday, the university hosted its second “Bee College” since moving to its new lab facility. Those who attended got up close and personal with the bees, but of course with some protection to avoid getting stung.

(Don't worry! If you don't scare them, they won't sting you! They're just fuzzy tiny teddy bears.)

The goal of these seminars is to teach people about the importance of bees in the environment, such as pollination, and how they can help the insects.

“So we always tell people as well that they can plant native wildflowers, or trees, or shrubs around their houses that will benefit,” said Dr. Jamie Ellis, a Professor of Entomology with UF. “In addition, we really tell people they need to have responsible pesticide use. A lot of things they’re putting out on their homes, or on their homes and gardens, can cause problems for bees.”

Professor Ellis also focused on the burning question: is the bee population on the decline? While he said there has been some decline, much of it is exaggerated by social media.

"What they're using hearing when they're hearing this is they're hearing we're losing somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% to 40% of our bees every year. In truth, beekeepers will take the colonies that survive and split those colonies to recover the losses. So our bee numbers have not been going down even though the beekeepers have experiencing high losses,” said Professor Ellis.

For those interested in “Bee College,” there’s still time to sign up. There are open slots in the schools on Thursday, August 8th and Friday, August 9th.

Prices to attend start at $30 per person and can run upwards of $200.

To find more information and how you can sign up, just click here.