Hometown: Gainesville, FL
School: University of Florida
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Entomology and Nematology
Pets: Cooper the lap dog, a rescued Great Dane and Black Labrador mix
Hobbies: Wood working, painting, running, home-brewing, reading
Favorite honeybee fact: In a single season one hive can have a total flight distance of 12.4 million miles (that is half the distance from Earth to Venus)!
My Beekeeping Philosophy: Knowledge is power; the more you understand the actions of honeybees and their hive the better you can care for them.
A little about me and my journey into beekeeping:
I grew up in the hot and humid state of Florida, which is known primarily for having Disney World, oranges, beaches, sunshine, and palm trees, (which surprisingly you won’t find throughout most of Florida). But, my favorite part of Floridian culture is the lesser-known beekeeping heritage. Beekeepers have been in Florida since the late 1800’s and today are directly responsible for the first US crops of strawberries, blueberries, and oranges to ship out every spring. And to top it off there are still some old-time beekeepers that literally defend their “top-secret” tupelo tree bee yards with a shotgun! I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Floridian honeybee culture during my college years, but I am now happy to bring that knowledge to Central Texas.
Conventionally most beekeepers find their love for bees because it has passed down through their family or a friend keeps bees and sparked their interest. However, my beekeeping journey began while I was a student in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at The University of Florida (UF). My love for honeybees started in a lecture hall while listening to my professor, Dr. Carl Barfield, describe the complexities and oddities of a beehive. Since that first lecture on honeybees I took every course offered at UF that related to beekeeping, social insects, and animal behaviors that are the basis of all my scientific knowledge about bees.
I also volunteered my free time working in the Honeybee Research and Extension Lab at UF by helping graduate students and the apiary manager conduct experiments related to native bees and honeybees. Along the same lines, I also worked part-time as an undergraduate researcher for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service for nearly two years working on population genetics of fire ants. Why fire ants you may ask? That was the closest related organism to honeybees that was studied at the facility near UF. Ants are a great model to study complex social hierarchies (queen, drone, workers, soldiers) and are very similar to honeybees in how they delegate tasks to workers. During this time I was also able to hone my ability to work with and inform the general public about the importance of agriculture and bees by working for the Dean’s Office as a College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Ambassador.
After my undergraduate career I attended graduate school for one year studying population genetics and evolutionary genetics of bees but ultimately decided that academia is not where I belong. This brings us to the present and how I am here with BeeWeaver today. My search for a job with a well respected apiary started and ended with BeeWeaver Apiaries. They are the top apiary that I was interested in because they blend careful scientific research and knowledge with good beekeeping practices to produce high quality honeybees. By joining the BeeWeaver and BeeGoods Mercantile family as their Central Texas beekeeper I am able to fulfill my desire to be a scientist, teacher, and beekeeper all at the same time.
Now that you know about my journey into beekeeping let me help you start or enhance your own beekeeping adventure!