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Event aims to educate public on bees and urban beekeeping

By Staff | Aug 19, 2009

The Beekeepers Association of Southwest Florida wants the public to know that bees are a natural resource that should be cherished and protected.

They hope to further that goal by hosting an event Saturday on National Honey Bee Awareness Day in Fort Myers. This is the first time the club is hosting an event to celebrate the special day.

Organizer Dennis Riggs admits they are hurriedly putting the final touches on the event, but the message remains clear: Bees are valuable to the community.

“We’re stressing how important bees are,” he said. “The public needs education, politicians need education, and the media needs education. We’re going to be explaining what the public can do to be involved in beekeeping.”

At the heart of the effort is Riggs’ push to institute more urban beekeepers, as opposed to rural keepers, which seem to be the norm. He said the driving force behind increased urban beekeeping is the need for pollination, which is vital to native flora.

Riggs also wants to buck the misinformation about honey bees, which he fears people are surrounded by.

“The misinformation is that if people keep bees they might get stung, when in reality it’s the opposite” he said. “Keeping good bees is actually cutting down on stinging. We’re afraid politicians in other communities might misinterpret what people want and don’t want when it comes to bees.”

Along with a presentation about urban beekeeping by Riggs, other highlights of the day include honey extraction, honey tasting, beekeeping demonstrations and an observation hive, in which attendees can check out the bees in action.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Bee Awareness Showcase takes place from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Gulf Coast Palm and Tree Nursery, 8591 Gladiolis Drive.

For more information, visit the Beekeepers Association of Southwest Florida’s Web site at: www.swfbees.com.