Honey bees have captured my attention.
As more local beekeepers began popping up at the farmers market, it seemed that friends and family were becoming obsessed with the hobby - and they weren't alone.
The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg installed a rooftop urban apiary and brought in exhibits inspired by the bees. A newspaper article in The Ledger described how the loss of Florida orange groves to disease was affecting orange blossom honey. I started hearing about honey-based cuisine, and craft cocktails made with honey -- and the revival of that staple of King Arthur's roundtable: mead.
Honey bees aren't just cute - they're crucial, making possible through their pollination an estimated 20-30 percent of our food. Florida is one of the top states in the country in honey production, with some of the finest quality honey you can find.
They're also under threat. Bee farmers lose their colonies at a rate that would make any other kind of agriculture unsustainable. Stressors, such as the vicious Varroa mite, are causing die-offs as high as 40 percent. But beekeepers have stepped up to fight for their bees, and they're winning. Total bees hives are actually increasing slightly every year.
In a special collaboration between WUSF News and The Zest Podcast, we're taking a closer look at honey bees.
READ MORE: The Buzz On Florida’s Honey Bees