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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

Third-generation beekeeper on food pollination, bee hotels, and 'sophisticated little creatures'


Derek Lewis offers advice for new beekeepers and suggests ways make any lawn more bee-friendly.

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When it comes to educating the public about pollination, Derek Lewis is one busy bee. The third-generation beekeeper began tending to the insects in 1952, after his grandfather developed a bee allergy and turned over his six beehives to Derek.

“We all love honey. But in reality, bees’ far greater function in society is their pollination,” Derek says. “They are sophisticated little creatures.”

The South African native now lives in St. Petersburg, where he’s active in the Pinellas Beekeepers Association.

“I soon realized that there’s a need for mentors,” says Derek, who estimates he’s counseled more than 100 beekeeping novices. He also advocates for bees at city council meetings and was instrumental in making backyard honey bee hives legal in St. Pete.

“I was cited by the city for selling honey from home… and I fought back,” Derek recalls.

In a conversation with The Zest, Derek explains the importance of bees as the world’s population increases, offers advice for new beekeepers and suggests ways make any lawn more bee-friendly.

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