Beekeeping in the Florida Panhandle: becoming a beekeeper

Anthony Mosier

For many years, I had bought honey at various places not knowing much about its purity or origin–or, for that matter, all the work involved in beekeeping. 

A few years back, I got online and started to look into how to become a beekeeper. The internet is a good place for information, some good and some bad (more on that later). 

When I learned that bees could be ordered through the mail, I thought that does not seem like a good idea. Who knows how long the bees could sit in a container with no food or water source and changing temperatures? 

I decided to look for local places to purchase bees and beekeeping equipment. In our area there are some great resources available. I contacted a beekeeper near my house and learned that I could purchase bees, a queen, and a whole hive kit for a reasonable price. So, now, I could become a beekeeper. 

I picked a place for my bee hive close to our pond, put down some weed blocker, set up some concrete blocks, and bought some landscape timbers to set the hive on. I ordered the bees and the hive.

The beekeeper said that the bees were not ready to pick up until early spring, late March or early April.

On an early cool morning in April that year, I picked up my bee hive with the bees already in it and set it up on my bee yard spot. 

When picking up my hive and bees, the local beekeeper mentioned a local beekeeping meeting that met once a month at the Washington County Ag Center in Chipley. I was curious, so I attended my first Central Panhandle Beekeeping Association meeting. 

At that meeting, there is a mix of commercial and backyard beekeepers. What a great place to ask questions to experienced beekeepers. 

I had watched some videos on YouTube and was following a very experienced beekeeper. I found out that not all things on the internet are true. I also found out that bees in Illinois need different things than bees in Florida. 

Another confusing thing was when I asked a question to different people I got several different answers….usually ending with “whatever works for you.” 

This was my first year, so I did not know what would work for me. I have found out that every situation is different. Placement and food sources make a big difference. My first year had some success with 35 pounds of honey. 

Beekeeping can be a very interesting hobby or, if you are willing to put in the work, a commercial business. Getting started should include a local beekeeping meeting.

Anthony Mosier has been keeping bees for four years and continues to expand his experience and bee hives.