Bees are an integral component of the ecosystem. Bees are pollinators -- as are birds, bats, beetles, and butterflies -- that are responsible for helping to cross-pollinate more than 30 percent of crops in the food supply and more than 90 percent of wild plants.
Without bees and other pollinators, many plants -- including plants we grow for food -- would die. That's kind of a problem with a rapidly increasing global food demand.
Not to kill your buzz, but bee populations are suffering due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and other external factors that could eventually cause serious damage to our food supply.
That is why every hive is precious, even the "nuisance" ones. Fortunately for the bees of Broward County -- and South Florida, overall -- the Broward Beekeeper's Association is trying to save the bee population, one hive at a time. The organization will remove unwanted bees from yards and relocate them to local beekeepers.
Dr. Leo Gosser and his wife, Marie, founded the Broward Beekeepers Association six years ago to bring together home beekeepers in the area. Since its inception, the group has grown to include around 60 members and has even spawned other local beekeeping organizations throughout South Florida.
Clean Plate Charlie spoke to Marie Gosser about the goals of the organization.
"Without bees, we have no food," she said. "Without food, we have no humanity. We need bees to survive."
The group's main goal is to provide resources for local keepers. Under the Florida Beekeepers Protection Act, signed into law last year, home beekeepers are legally allowed to keep bees as long as they are approved by state apiary inspectors, and that has opened the doors for more hobby beekeepers.
While the group aims to support a network of apiary enthusiasts and mentors, it also works to help increase bee populations as a whole. These beekeepers remove unwanted hives from individual backyards.
"People call us for removal," said Gosser. "We ask, 'Why not become a beekeeper?' A lot of our members joined the association after calling for removal. Other have called wanting help to start a colony from scratch. We help to get potential keepers everything they need."
Gosser thinks the main problem is misinformation: People are afraid to get stung.
"Bees die when they sting you," she said. "They don't want to die. We teach people how to be gentle with them. If people don't want to keep the bees, we remove them and bring them to our home or other people's homes. We try to make people aware of the benefits of bees."
The association also works with local farmers to bring them hives. Even if the bees are not necessarily needed for pollination, they help with the production of many fruit trees.
Membership in the Broward Beekeeper's Association is a $50 contribution per year, which covers state registration fees, a T-shirt or book, and other resources. For more information about beekeeping or hive removal, call 954-344-1493 or visit browardbees.org.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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