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Buzz Is On for Broward's Only Community Apiary

When most kids were terrified of getting stung, Dr. Leo Gosser was developing a lifelong passion for bees. As the son of a beekeeper, he has been around the buzzing little insects many consider a pest for most of his life. He believes they are indispensable contributors to our food supply and the world ecosystem.

After spending the majority of his adult life as a chemist in the pharmaceutical industry, Gosser founded the Broward Beekeepers Association with his wife, Marie, six years ago. Together, the couple have made it their goal to support bee populations and a network of more than 60 local keepers in the county, as well as the area's first community apiary.

Located on the north side of Sample Road just a couple of blocks west of 441, among big car dealerships, nondescript strip malls, and unmemorable apartment complexes, the apiary looks like little more than undeveloped land. Overgrown weeds divide the three-foot-tall, brown and white hives from the rest of the property on Mecca Farms, one of the few plots of agricultural land remaining in the county.

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A small dirt driveway separates the apiary from the main road. We pulled up on a sunny Wednesday afternoon to meet Gosser, a sturdy, white-haired man with smiling eyes and a calm disposition, and two members of the association: Edmund Reid, a slightly bashful man with a melodic island accent, and Dan Novak, a pest-control professional with wire-framed glasses and a friendly Southern manner. Bees buzzed and darted around in the afternoon heat.

"Guard bees," said Gosser with a laugh. "They try to keep people at a distance from the hive."

As the guard bees attempted to scare us away, Gosser, Reid, and Novak gave us the rundown on how the community apiary and overall association work. Anyone can join, even those without experience in beekeeping; all it takes is an interest and a willingness to try something new.

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Sara Ventiera