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The Zest: Beekeepers Talk Shop During Sweetwater Live Event

Becky Dineen, Robin Sussingham, Josh Harris
Leslie Laney
Becky Dineen (l), Robin Sussingham, Josh Harris at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm

Josh Harris got his start,  as so many beekeepers do, when a swarm of bees landed in his yard. He decided to keep the hive and learn how to tend to the bees, and then added another hive, and another.

Eventually, the former pastor decided to make beekeeping his full-time career, and now owns Queen & Colony Bee Company. 

Speaking at The Zest podcast live event taped recently at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, Harris told The Zest host Robin Sussingham that he was drawn in to the bees' intricate society.

"You're entering a whole different world when you open up that hive," he says. "And then you start to get to know what's going on, and after doing it for a while --  just by the way the bees are releasing pheromones -- you can smell what's going on, you can hear what's going on, you can feel what's going on.”

Also speaking on the panel was Becky Dineen, apiary inspector for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, who said bees have been feasting in recent weeks on the invasive Brazilian Pepper plants, and also  Spanish needles and porterweed, which will help sustain the bees through the winter.

Foraging becomes harder for bees in the winter, and Harris said that he was surprised to find that his hives kept in the rural areas produced much less honey than those he kept in the city. 

"Here in the city, not only do we have the native plants, but we have so much imported landscaping and trees so there's always something blooming, even in December," he said.

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Robin Sussingham was Senior Editor at WUSF until September 2020.
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