Buzz Is On for Broward's Only Community Apiary
Gosser says exposure to the pesticides is not strong enough to outright kill the bees, but it's hindering individual bees' development, creating learning, navigational, and communication deficiencies.
"Young bees go through four stages: egg, larva, pupa, adulthood," said Gosser. "At every stage, these bees are being exposed to these chemicals. We don't really know what is happening, but we do know young bees are not developing properly; it's a gradual exposure, and that's a problem."
While Gosser talked us through the extraction process, Reid and Novak demonstrated. After donning white bee suits -- basically, heavy-duty coveralls -- and wide-brimmed netted hats, the men fired up the smoker, a device that looks like a tin can with an accordion strapped to its side, using some dried pine needles. It calms the bees, just in case they get too agitated by the keepers' intrusion on the hives.
Together Reid and Novak performed their monthly check on the hives. According to Gosser, for three hives, you should expect three hours a month in maintenance between checking the health of the hives, extracting honey, and replacing frames as needed. (The average amount of honey garnered is 40 pounds per hive per year.) As they smoked the nucs and pulled the wooden frames from the boxes, the hexagonal pattern of the honeycomb was clearly visible. None was ready for extraction, but the hives were coming along well.
As they walked away from the hives, bees surrounded Reid and Novak. Gosser got a couple of stings but seemed completely unperturbed. For a beekeeper, it's just part of a day's work.
The Broward Beekeepers Association can frequently be found at the Parkland Farmers' Market, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first and third Sundays of the month at 8350 Ranch Road in Parkland. It also conducts monthly meetings on the second Sunday of the month at 4 p.m. at the Sawgrass Nature Center, located at 3000 Sportsplex Drive in Coral Springs. Call 954-344-1493, or visit browardbees.org.
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