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July 22, 2020

In the back of a family home sits a white wooden box surrounded by brush and nature, buzzing with bees. Behind the wooden façade, framed inside, are rows and rows of honeycombs.

There are many reasons why people take up hobbies, a pique of interest, a new challenge or to learn something new. For Abraham, an associate at Butler’s Tampa office, it was a desire to make a change that first drew him to a unique hobby, beekeeping. The benefits of this avocation reap more than just a leisure activity to enjoy outside of office hours.


Q: For those that don’t know, what does a beekeeper do?

A: In the most general sense, a beekeeper is someone who maintains hives of bees.  This ranges from small hobbyists with just a handful of hives to larger operations with thousands of hives.  This includes keeping them healthy like you would any other pet or livestock. 


Q: When did you become a beekeeper, and what inspired you to start?

A: When I was in college, I read something on a package of cough-drops about how the bees were dying and I wanted to do something to help.  Sometime in 2012, my parents moved to some acreage not too far from here so I thought “now might be a good time to start.”  The rest is history. 


Q: What kind of bees do you keep?

A: I started out with the Italian subspecies of the European honeybee.  They are gentle and good producers of honey.  They also do well in warm climates like Florida.

I recently switched over to the Carniolan subspecies which is from Slovenia.  They are also very gentle and are easier to maintain in dearth.  The breeder I get my queens from has a strain that naturally removes varroa mites so that is a huge help. 

Q: What do you find are the biggest challenges of beekeeping?

A: The biggest challenge has been the varroa mite.  Scaled to humans, they are a mite the size of a volleyball that sucks their fluids and then bounces from bee to bee spreading diseases.

Another is citrus greening disease which has decimated Florida’s citrus crop.  Citrus is a critical food source for bees in Florida and losing that has been a big challenge.  Fun fact: citrus nectar has trace amounts of caffeine.

The lack of flowers is generally a problem.  People can help by planting more nectar producing flowers, preferably native species. 


Q: What purpose does your hive serve and what are your goals?

A: It gives me joy as a hobby.  Keeping bees is a fun thing to do and I learn a lot from it..  Honey when I can get it is definitely a plus. 


How much honey will you get this year?

I had some issues with queenlessness (a hive without a queen bee capable of laying fertilized eggs) earlier in the season so that set me back a lot.  I am hoping to build them back up over the summer and get 10-20 pounds when the goldenrod and golden rain trees bloom in the autumn.  My record is 50 pounds back in 2015.