Beekeepers in Florida need state funding to maintain healthy population of Honey Bees

Beekeepers in Florida said that they need state funding and some help to maintain healthy population of honey bees. As per the Florida State Beekeepers Association, it needs $3.5 million for an apiary research center at the University of Florida.

According to the state's beekeepers, honey bees play an important role in agriculture and the economy. The state is the third largest honey-producing state in the United States. Florida reported crop value of $22.7 million in 2013.

About a decade ago, Florida had just 1,200 beekeepers, but now, the state in the southeastern region of the United States has approximately 3,500 beekeepers. The state's 400,000 honey-producing bee colonies face several kinds of threats including parasite called varroa mites.

Tom Nolan, association president and beekeeper from Bradenton, said that the research center has decided to figure out why so many beekeepers in the state have been losing colonies and to do so, the center needs funds and help.

While talking to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nolan said, "We have some very serious problems. Beekeepers are losing about 30% of their colonies every year. I'll ask you if you can think of an industry that can survive starting 30 percent in the hole every year".

Nolan further said that honey bees play a major in food supply. About One-third of the country's food supply comes from the pollination of honey bees. For food supply of the US, it is very important to maintain a healthy population of the insect, Nolan added.

In 2014, the Legislature had approved fund of about $2.5 million for the research center, but that time, Governor Rick Scott vetoed that. The governor didn't give reason for the veto. According to Nolan, $3.5 million grant was requested last year for the research center. In June 2014, TaxWatch report on the proposal stated that the state would receive a positive return on the investment.