HONEYBEE MICRO APIARY PLATFORM (MAP)

HONEYBEE MICRO APIARY PLATFORM (MAP)

Broward Honeybee Micro apiary Platform (MAP)
Overview

Broward County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2010, the population was 1,896,425, making it the second-most populous county in Florida and the 17th-most populous in the United States. Its county seat is Fort Lauderdale.

  • Area: 1,323 mi
  • Population: 1.839 million (2013)
  • Unemployment rate: 4.8% (Apr 2015)
  • Colleges (Including) : Broward College, Nova Southeastern University, Keiser University, McFatter Technical Center, Atlantic Technical Center, University for Florida Extension – Davie Campus and more
  • Parks (Including): The Everglades, 3 Florida State Parks, over 35 County Parks & natural preserves, over 60 Municipal Parks. (See Appendix # 1 – Broward Parks)

Background and Description

On May 19, 2014, the Obama administration announced the first National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honeybees and Other Pollinators, a bureaucratic title for a plan to save the honeybees, other small winged animals and their breeding grounds. While honeybee colonies regularly die off during winter because of stressful conditions, some environmentalists and academic experts have called their sharp decline a potential ecological disaster; conservative Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) described it in an interview as “an essential thing [that] we need to pay attention to.”

NPR’s Dan Charles says the strategy is pretty straightforward: “The government will provide money for more bee habitat and more research into ways to protect bees from disease and pesticides.

According to The Washington Post:

“Over the past five years, winter losses of commercial honeybee colonies have averaged roughly 30 percent[1]. A consortium of universities and research laboratories announced last week that beekeepers lost 42.1 percent of their colonies between April 2014 and 2015, an 8 percent spike from the previous year, and that the number of summer deaths exceeded winter deaths for the first time since the survey began in 2010.”

The Obama administration says honeybee pollination adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year.

The President has emphasized the need for an “all hands-on deck” approach to promoting pollinator health, including engagement of citizens and communities and the forging of public-private partnerships. To foster collaboration, the inter-agency Pollinator Health Task Force will work toward developing a Partnership Action Plan that guides coordination with the many state, local, industry, and citizen groups with interests in and capacities to help tackle the challenge facing pollinators.

Challenge

Honeybees are essential to the rich agricultural and bio diversity of an area.  However, the indigenous honeybee habitat and the non-aggressive bees themselves are under attack from the northward march of aggressive Africanized invasive DNA, the progressive urbanization of Florida’s historical agricultural nature, the indiscriminate pest and toxic chemical sprays (most recently to combat mosquito potentially carrying the Zika virus, as well as numerous other egregious factors which puts Broward’s pollinators – particularly honeybees at risk.

Numbers can be a key to dilute aggressive and invasive African honeybee genetics[2].  Broward County is able and should erect a wall of managed and non-aggressive European honeybee drones to mate with feral queens.  This, “poor mans” genetic strategy, can serve the dual purpose of promoting both a health and diverse natural environment while slowing the advancing dominance of the aggressive Africanized honeybees.  Based on the sage advice that “we should dig our well before we are thirsty”, we must preserve a ready stock of the healthy non-aggressive managed European honeybees in Broward.

This challenge requires both a public and a private response.  The public through its parks, open and public spaces can and should incorporate managed honey-bee apiaries as part of its public responsibility.  Privately, the local, regional and statewide Bee Associations must redouble their efforts through education and support to create a rising tide private bee-keepers within the permissive regulations from Florida’s Department of Agriculture.  Each effort will inevitably support the other.

Scope

 Assumptions

  1. Studies indicate Managed Honeybee Colonies are better than feral colonies;
    1. Safer, both for the honeybees and the public[3]
    2. Natural barrier to more aggressive Africanized colonies
    3. Healthier colonies through constant and regular monitoring[4]
    4. Convenient research platform
    5. Natural honey and honeybee products source
  2. The majority of live removals result in either the bees removed from Broward, or destroyed because of the lack of available Broward managed honeybee habitat resources.
  3. Broward County has a diverse mix of open lands managed by water districts, housing authorities, wet land set asides, non-educational-nonpublic school sites (maintenance, administrative, excess & reserve properties), city parks, county parks, state parks, county environmentally sensitive lands and colleges, all of which would be suitable for honeybee micro managed habitats. (Most City, County and State parks have nonpublic areas.)
  4. Local, regional and statewide Beekeepers Associations have a strong membership in retired professionals, skilled in live bee removals and back-yard beekeeping.
  5. Broward Regional Health Planning Council (BRHPC), established by state statute, is the county planning entity for the health care and community health issues. It currently manages a budget in excess of 100 million dollars, primarily in community grants.  Included in its portfolio are grants from the US Department of Agriculture primarily for the PATCH healthy food project which has incorporated an impressive outreach to the area’s urban farming communities like the Urban Farming Institute (UFI).
  6. Any successful Honeybee managed habitat pilot platform will require space, personnel, and financial resources.

The Broward County Honeybee Micro Apiary Habitat Platform (MAP)
A new and better strategy to create tangible ways to improve the health of honeybee colonies!

Some Important Definitions

  • Colony: A hive containing queen bee and attendant worker bees and/or drone bees.
  • Commercial beekeepers: Beekeepers with many colonies whose primary business is contract pollination, queen rearing and honey production.
  • Private beekeepers: small-scale beekeepers (typically,5 colonies or less), often called “backyard” or “Sidelined” beekeepers whose primary activities are for honeybee preservation and backyard pollination, cottage industry honey and related product production (including beeswax, propolis, pollen, etc.). [5]
  • Nuc: A smaller sized hive box with reduced numbers of bees and brood, usually containing a queen; used for expansion of the apiary operation or renovating an existing colony.
  • Renovated colony: An existing colony that was requeened or received a nuc or package (a package of 300+ honeybees).
  • Managed Honeybee Colony: a domesticated honey bee colony managed under Florida’s Best Practices Requirements”.

Background Context

The motivations, goals, processes, methods are very different between commercial and private beekeepers.  So too are both the willingness and ability to innovate different.  Further, a search of available literature and grant activity show an apparent complete absence the public sector’s engagement as anything more than a funding source as opposed to being a valued partner in this important public issue.  This is odd because one of the most critical needs of the healthy honey bee is land – the one thing government has in abundance.

Further, historical efforts and funding to conduct economic assessments of the “true” cost of beekeeping operations and develop methods or processes to maximize beekeeper’s efficiency has been necessarily focused on commercial beekeeping generally ignoring the private and non-existent public beekeeper.  This is primarily due to the convenience and the access to large number of colonies with commercial beekeepers as compared with both the access difficulty and smaller colony numbers of private beekeepers.  Also, in Florida – commercial beekeepers manage over 90% of the 460,000 colonies in the state.

In some cases, the comprehensive information generated from these efforts has been stored on databases as a repository for all beekeepers – both commercial and private.  But, because of the very real differences between commercial and private beekeepers, this effort too often likely presents a skewed and potentially biased data baseline that is simply not valid in the real world.

Innovation can benefit from process, tools, and governance and is not just a matter of divine inspiration.  Empirically, not many commercial beekeepers have good innovation processes. They will be good at incremental innovation (smaller-scale process or method improvements or extensions) because

  1. this is their bread and butter and so they have dedicated resources focused on this, and
  2. radical innovation is high risk and highly disruptive to a commercial organization from a resource, capital, and management focus perspective.

Moreover, there is a real disconnect between the meaning of “innovation” between commercial and private beekeepers. Some—perhaps most—commercial beekeepers look for breakthroughs, but these are expected seamlessly merge into an existing commercial operation. In contrast, for a private beekeeper, the “innovation” is their whole focus of healthy honeybees, and developed wholly independently of the goals of a commercial beekeeper.  This can create a real collision of public policy and commercial interests.

But it is the application of advances and innovative approaches to beekeeping methods and processes, which translates scientific and technological advances into more productive economic activity. This results in economic growth if pollination market structures and the regulatory environment enable the more productive activities to expand. This said, the innovative effort itself, including formal research and development, remains the essential condition of growth.

What if there were a way to create a public/private partnership that would bridge the social, economic, and scientific gulf between commercial beekeeping, the private beekeeper, and the public interested in protecting bio-diversity and the environment?

Introducing the Broward County Micro Apiary Platform (MAP)

The MAP is a proposed countywide distributed network of coordinated micro-apiaries[6], centrally managed on public property, 30 controlled separate micro-apiary environments of 10-15 managed colonies (potentially 450 managed and stable colonies, 45-90 million honeybees).   The Broward Regional Health Planning Council (BRHPC) has already funded and built the prototype micro-apiary and the second, larger micro-apiary prototype is under construction (to be operational in December 2016). See appendix # 4 & 5 Honeybee Micro-Apiary.

The First Honeybee Micro Apiary[7] prototype in Florida

In October 2015, the idea of a micro apiary was presented to the Broward Bee Policy ad hoc committee as a way in which public property could be conveniently used to produce more managed honeybee colonies without adversely affecting the public use or purpose of the thousands of acres of public property in Broward County.

UFI - Micro Apiary
UFI – Micro Apiary

Two months later, Florida’s first micro apiary prototype was constructed with the financial support of Broward Regional Health Planning Council (BRHPC) and the leadership from the Urban Farming Institute (UFI) along with its partnership with the City of Oakland Park.

  • Located at The Discovery Farm and Gardens at Jaco Pastorius Park in the City of Oakland Park.
  • It established important financial and operational baselines in construction, management and maintainability for the future planning of micro apiaries throughout Broward County and Florida.
  • Since it was created, it has served as a regional education, demonstration, and resource center for hundreds of educators, health practitioners, gardeners, farmers, and producers interested in growing food in an urban setting. Notably, it has hosted a number of free “back-yard” bee keeping seminars resulting in a number of new bee-keepers.

The Second HoneyBee Micro Apiary

In October 2016, Broward’s second micro apiary was approved for Broward County’s Tradewinds Park) based on the original (but expanded) micro apiary prototype, again with the financial support of the Broward Regional Health Planning Council (BRHPC).  The Tradewinds Park micro-apiary is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of December 2016.

Due to the success of the original Honeybee Micro Apiary prototype, there are currently additional requests for the construction of additional honeybee micro apiaries from and in a number of the 30 Broward County municipalities – as well as a number of additional Broward County parks and colleges.

Each honeybee micro apiary requires $7,500 to construct and can hold up to 15 honeybee colonies (about 1.5 million bees @ 200,000/per healthy colony). Our goal is to receive a grant of $ 225,000 to the Broward Regional Health Planning Council (BRHPC) for the construction of 20 additional honeybee micro apiaries on public property through the Broward County or municipal parks system.  This would manage & protect approximately 30 million honeybees in Broward County.

Once constructed, the management obligation of the honeybee micro apiary becomes the responsibility of the government on whose property the apiary resides.  The prototype has developed a number of apiary management scenarios in which the services of a beekeeper can be exchanged for the simple provision of apiary space or part of the training for a college degree in environmental science or entomology.  Alternatively or in addition, beekeeper services can be exchanged for a share of the honeybee by-products from the resulting colonies.

Currently, there are active requests to construct additional Honeybee Micro-Apiaries on public property at Broward College and in the cities of Oakland Park, Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Sunrise, Hollywood and Parkland.  Plans are already in progress to site more Micro-Apiaries in Broward County Parks and nature preserves after the first County park Micro-Apiary becomes operational at Broward County’s Tradewinds Park in December 2016.

The MAP Program

Funding is provided by the Broward Regional Health Planning Council (BRHPC) to provide construction grants to or on behalf of governmental and public entities for the construction of a micro-apiary.  Before the construction grant is provided, the particular micro-apiary project must receive approvals for the proposed site from the governmental land-owner and Florida’s Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industries.  The governmental land-owner must also have an acceptable agreement for the apiary management with an experienced and Florida Licensed Beekeeper who has certified that the colonies within the apiary will be managed according to Florida’s Best Practices Requirements (See Appendix #3). Finally, the contracted beekeeper must agree to submit their inspection reports to the Broward Regional Health Planning Council as part of a public database available on the internet.

The construction cost of each micro-apiary is between $5,500-$7,500 depending on the educational use required.

Sustainability

Simplicity is the key to sustainability of each micro-apiary.  Each micro-apiary’s beekeeper provides both the hive material and bees in each hive in return for the use of the space for their beekeeping.  Typically, the beekeeper shares the bee product production with the land-owner and agrees to perform certain bee related services in the area for a reduced or no cost, such as bee recoveries and rescues.  In the case of the micro-apiary prototype – educational services including training and introductory beekeeping classes have led to a sustainable revenue stream.  For the land-owner, the micro-apiary prototype has become a traffic draw with many who were at first curious about private beekeeping engaging in other property attractions.    Over time, an accurate financial proforma can be created for private beekeeping, and by extension – commercial beekeeping.

Once the MAP network expands sufficiently, it can be offered as a valuable platform for scientific studies and analysis due to the availability for blind control colonies both within and outside of a cluster or clusters reasonably proximate to each other.   It is anticipated that scientific study proposal approvals for the use of Broward’s micro-apiary platform will be a collegial activity involving the Broward Regional Health Planning Council, the governmental property owner, and the contracted (or permitted) beekeeper.

Micro Apiary Platform (MAP) Benefits (Include but not limed to):

  1. Rescue, quarantine, restore, renovate and enhance colonies of honeybees that would otherwise be destroyed.
  2. Preserve biodiversity of public parks and lands including native wildflowers and dedicated areas of diverse forage through the introduction of managed honeybees.
  3. Provide for the capacity to test new management processes utilizing blind control hives within a given apiary cluster easily.
  4. Provide a platform to test and promote Queen management by assessing honeybee genetics for traits relevant to colony resistance to pests and diseases, as well as honey production.
  5. Provide an educational platform for promoting and teaching private beekeeping.
  6. Provide a source for managed and stable colonies for private beekeeping.
  7. Create a natural barrier to more aggressive Africanized and aggressive honeybee colonies.
  8. Create a local source for park-based honeybee products including honey, wax, propolis.
  9. Provide a stable financial platform to create realistic financial proforma’s for private beekeeping within the urban farm supply chain.
  10. Provide a public strategy for pollinator protection and the ecosystems they help sustain.
  11. Provide a convenient local and regional focal point among the public, scientists, farmers, beekeepers, governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations and representatives of the food value chain for protecting honeybees as a matter of public concern.
  12. Provide a platform to further solutions to promote bee health so that beekeepers can better fight pests and disease pathogens.
  13. Provide a platform to find tangible ways to improve the health of honeybee colonies.
  14. Provide a platform to create and test a set of “Best Management Requirements” for beekeeping based on definitive colony health performance data.
  15. The comprehensive information generated from these efforts will be stored in a database that will also act as a repository for honeybee health data collected from historical and other ongoing efforts with immediate application to backyard and sideline beekeepers who make up the majority of the industry.
  16. Provide a platform to develop multiple tactics to find and test the most robust management approach for a future of uncertain climate, environmental disruptions, and invasive species introductions.
  17. Honeybee rescues help with genetics and with the reduction of pesticides.

This project is urgently needed because of declining native bee populations and uncertainty about honeybee health.

Acknowledgements:

My thanks to all who have contributed to this document & presentation.  In particular; John Coldwell, John Albee, John Rochester, Michael DeLuca.

[1] Current 2016 USDA data gas Florida winter losses at 44.1%

[2] Managed European-Derived HoneyBee, Apis mellifera sspp, Colonies Reduce African-Matriline HoneyBee, A. m. scutellata, Drones at Regional Mating Congregations.  Ashley N. Mortensen , James D. Ellis ;Published: August 12, 2016.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0161331   http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/entnemdept/2016/08/15/reducing-african-honey-bee-numbers-using-managed-european-colonies/

[3] Notwithstanding that non-aggressive feral colonies high up in trees or otherwise not directly interacting with well used public traffic are perfectly safe and should be left alone to thrive naturally, misplaced feral colonies (those that interact with public traffic) – or colonies that are impermissibly aggressive should be removed to a managed facility.  Except in unusual or extreme cases, nothing herein should be construed to support the destruction of honeybee colonies.

[4] Typically, colony stress elements including for example; disease, pests, and climate affect clusters of colonies under particular location, circumstance, management practices and genetics. Through regular inspections, these stress agents are better understood and managed as clusters.

[5] According to State officials, in Florida there are over 3000 beekeepers with less than 10 colonies. But the commercial beekeepers manage over 90% of the 460,000 colonies in the state.

[6] A micro-apiary is an enclosed structure based of the Broward County Micro -Apiary prototype that can contain 10-20 Colonies with associated NUCs.

[7] An apiary or bee yard is a place where managed beehives of honeybees are kept.  Under state law, all apiaries in Florida are maintained by licensed Florida Beekeepers and regularly inspected by the Florida Department of Agriculture, Plant Industry Division.

 

Dan Lewis

Dan Lewis

Dan Lewis is a Systems Architect, Crisis Management; Political Micro-Targeting Analytics & Message Development Consulting; Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc. CEO/Founder; JNAC Communications & Management Services LLC CEO; Past Service: • Miramar City Commissioner, • Broward County Growth Management advisory committee, Chair, • Broward County Management & Efficiency Study Committee, Chair, • Broward County Charter Review Committee, Chair; Broward County Growth Management Advisory Committee, Chair, • Fort Lauderdale Charter Review Committee, Chair•Member of 7 school Sit Teams, president of 5; • BCSB Consultant’s Review Committee, • BCSB Audit Committee, • BCSB Diversity Committee •Broward County Health Facilities Authority •Broward Regional Health Planning Council
Dan Lewis

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