Gardeners learn of the resilience of bees

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At the recent meetings of the Port St. Joe Garden Club, Tiffany Howell spoke about the different honeys produced in the Florida Panhandle. Then she related how, after Hurricane Michael tore through the region, she was recruited by Captain Buddy Nachtsheim to help sustain his beehives once he was called back to sea. 

Bees are highly social insects that are subject to the travails of inclement weather, parasites, disease, and predators. Howell and her mentor Nachtsheim draw strong parallels between strife in the hive and human adversity. In the same manner that the local area has slowly recovered from the hurricane of 2018, Nachtsheim's bee colony survived, thrived, and produced a sweet bounty. 

Bees are natural foragers but maintaining bee colonies requires very specific knowledge, much of which is learned by trial and error. As a result, beekeepers are a tight community, according to Howell, who invited fellow apiarist Cynde Aaron to field questions with her. By sharing their combined experiences, apiculturists are able to evade many common yet avoidable setbacks. 

Tupelo honey is produced by bees that gather pollen and nectar almost exclusively from tupelo trees. To produce honey of the highest quality, beekeepers float their hives on barges along the river banks near the trees during their flowering season. While this process is very labor-intensive, it results in a honey with an exceptional flavor that will not crystallize over time. A bee farmer's extra effort is well rewarded by the high price tupelo honey commands. 

In other news, garden club members are dividing bulbs, tending vegetable starts, and putting the final touches on garden ornaments that will be available at the upcoming plant sale. Scheduled for Saturday, April 9, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. ET, the event will be hosted at the Garden Center located at 216 Eighth Street, rain or shine. There will also be a yard sale with unexpected bargains as well as a bake sale featuring delights just in time for Easter dinner. 

The PSJ Garden Club, chartered by the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, has as its mission to advance education in horticulture and conservation, to implement local beautification projects, to engage in civic involvement, and to maintain Blue Star marker installations. Proceeds from fundraisers are also used to maintain the lovely garden center that is on the US Department of the Interior's Register of historic places. 

The garden club meets at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET on the second Thursday of each month at the Garden Center. Visit the Port St. Joe Garden Club's Facebook page for more information about upcoming events. Please contact Sue Meyer at 513-504-1679 for details regarding the rental of the recently renovated Garden Center located at 216 Eighth Street. The venue is perfect for weddings, showers, and family reunions.

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