The Buzz On Florida's Honey Bees

Florida is one of the nation's largest producers of honey and is a hub for beekeeping, both commercially and as a hobby.

In a special reporting collaboration, WUSF News and the Zest Podcast are taking a closer look at honey bees over the next few weeks.


This week on Florida Matters, we talk with Jamie Ellis, Professor of Entomology and director of honey bee research at the University of Florida.

Jamie Ellis directs honey bee research at the University of Florida. TYLER JONES/UF/IFAS

Ellis and his team conduct research projects in the fields of honey bee husbandry, conservation and ecology, and integrated crop pollination. And he created UF's Master Beekeeper Program.

There's been good news and bad news about bees in the news, and it's hard to know how they're doing, exactly.

We talk with Ellis about how honey bee populations are faring, and why beekeepers are having to work harder to maintain healthy colonies.

Tupelo honey is produced with the nectar of tupelo trees found in the swamps of the Florida Panhandle and is known for its distinctive flavor. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

We learn why Florida has some of the best honey in the nation and what goes into producing it.

And we talk about some threats to bee populations, including varroa mites and improper use of pesticides.

You can hear an extended conversation with Ellis on the Zest Podcast, which drops Thursday.