Thanks to the hard work of honeybees, roughly one fifth of the foods we enjoy are made possible, and behind each hive — at least those that are “domesticated” — is a scientist or beekeeper helping its thousands of residents thrive. For the hives on the campus at the University of Florida, they’re part of a program that’s been in action since about the 1920’s, but this year marks the completion of the new honeybee headquarters on UF’s campus, per Jamie Ellis, who is a Gahan endowed associate professor in entomology with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
According to Ellis, who also runs the new honeybee lab, “The Honeybee Research and Extension Laboratory is a series of three buildings — it’s a mini bee campus. One of the buildings, the Amy E. Lohman Apiculture Center, will house the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Apiary Inspection team, a beekeeping museum, a honey extraction and processing facility, and workshop space.”
The previously named Amy E. Lohman Apiculture Center is among this project’s main supporters, and it “will serve our research, Extension, and instruction efforts related to honeybees and beekeeping,” says Ellis. “We will be able to teach students and beekeepers how to build beekeeping equipment, extract and process honey, develop strategies for adding value to their beekeeping products, control honeybee pests and pathogens, and run a beekeeping business.” This lab has helped create an enduring, long-lasting resource for honeybee research and education, which is something these small but crucial pollinators need from us right now.
“This facility will survive well into the future and be a place where thousands of students and beekeepers are trained,” says Ellis. “This education will translate into healthier bees that, in turn, will continue to provide the pollination services that our crops so desperately need.” As well as Ms. Lohman, near hundreds of other beekeepers, businesses, industry supporters, the Florida State Beekeeper’s Association, and the University of Florida are together involved in funding the entire honeybee lab.
The lab, located on UF campus’s southwest corner, will have one room where glass beehives will be kept, which will let visitors look into active hives directly. Additionally, the lab’s complex will house thousands of bees within an outdoor apiary. According to Ellis, “In addition to providing a space for our outreach programs, researchers, and students, we have been intentional in making this a space where the public can learn about beekeeping and the importance of bees to our food system.”
Photo By Phovoir