After explaining to Bee College 2018 attendees how to split beehives, Rob Horsburgh, 43, demonstrates the steps Friday, Oct. 14, 2018. The event was hosted by the UF IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab and offered a variety of classes on beekeeping.

Honey bees are responsible for one in every three bites of food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Gainesville residents will now get the chance to interact with these food producers Feb. 29 during an Alachua County beekeeping class. 

The class, which is the second of four, is sponsored by the Alachua County extension of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The February class, which is open to anyone in Alachua County interested in beekeeping, focuses on how to manage a bee colony and how to split the hive to create two colonies. 

The classes are capped at 35 to 40 people, said Tatiana Sanchez, a commercial horticulture agent for the county’s IFAS extension. Twenty-five people were registered as of Feb. 3. 

This series is designed to assist those in their first year of beekeeping and strategically planned to coincide with each season, according to the IFAS website.

“For backyard beekeepers, honey bees are personally important, as they not only enjoy this as a hobby but bees can also provide them with wax and honey,” she said. “Honey bees, along with many other pollinators, have a crucial role in the productivity of many agricultural commodities and natural areas as they fertilize many different species of plants.” 

A decrease in bees can be dangerous for our economy, environment and domestic crops, according to the Associated Press. The AP reported that a rapid decrease in bees can signal poor health of the planet. 

Honey bees increase crop values nationwide by more than $15 billion each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Ava Morgan, an 18-year-old UF psychology junior, said she has been interested in beekeeping since she arrived at UF.

“There was a lot of attention around five years ago around the Save the Bees movement, and I guess I really got into it from that,” she said. “I just took it a step or two further than most people.”

She said she decided to continue working with bees her freshman year when she found out about UF’s Honey Bee Club. Since then, she has worked with bees more and has become the club’s vice president. 

Morgan said the biggest thing she wants people to know about honey bees is they are not as scary as they appear.

She said a lot of people tend to demonize bees for being aggressive, but most of the time they will not mess with someone unless they are provoked. 

“Just yesterday, I had my window open and a bee flew in and she was buzzing around,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, hello,’ and then she just flew right back out.”

Contact Katelynn Joyner at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @katelynn_joyner.