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NFM Rec Center/IFAS to hold beekeeping classes

By Staff | May 26, 2015

There may not be a more important insect on this planet than the bee. Without them, we would lose many of our crops.

That is why the University of Florida/ IFAS Lee County Extension and the Beekeepers Association of Southwest Florida (BASF) are doing something about it.

After a one-year absence due to budget constraints, they will offer a four-week introductory beekeeping class starting on Saturday morning at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center.

Celeste Fournier attended the course in 2012 and is now the BASF president. She said people have become more interested in beekeeping as they have become aware of their plight.

“A lot of people want to do this and we want them to become beekeepers. We just want them to have the information and be a good beekeeper,” Fournier said.

Don Murray former BASF president, took up beekeeping after living in New York. He said people will get a lot out of this course.

“People will learn about the construction of bee hives. People who have been in the business for years will talk about what being a beekeeper is like. What to look out for, the various diseases and pests,” Murray said. “It’s about maintaining the health of the bee.”

Many have worried that climate change, habitat loss and the use of pesticides has caused deaths and countless colonies to collapse. According to Greenpeace, honey bees perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. Also, 70 out of the top 100 human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.

“Bees create one-third of the world’s food population through pollination. They pollinate alfalfa, buckwheat and are important to the beef industry,” Murray said. “It’s all interrelated.”

“Our goal is to help people who want to be beekeepers learn everything they need to be successful and to help manage bees, and managed bees are always a help to the community,” Fournier said.

Bee provide pollination, honey and beeswax and provides another resource for the community by having healthy gardens and flowering plants, Fournier said.

Following the morning classroom session which will involve live speakers, afternoon sessions will be at the apiary/ farm of a BASF member beekeeper, where pupils will get hands-on experience with bees.

“It’s not difficult. You just have to devote time to it,” Fournier said.

Space is limited to 40 students. Pre-registration is necessary for inclusion in the class. Deadline for registration is Wednesday, May 27. Cost of the course is $200.

Students will receive a basic beekeeping startup kit including a bee veil for face protection, a bee-smoker, educational resource books and a bee hive box. Live bees are not provided.

For details call Fournier at 284-4078.