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Bee Keepers Buzzing

August 29th, 2011 by Mike Vasilinda

The number of bee keepers in Florida has tripled over the last four years. Most are backyard bee keepers, and after a multi year effort, Mike Vasilinda tells us they have won the right to sell the honey they produce without having small time kitchen operations go through expensive inspections by the state.

Roger Twitchell is a career state employee with a hobby.

Roger is a bee keeper, which is one of the fastest growing industries in Florida. Four years ago there were just 700 licensed keepers. Now there are 2100. Experts say the majority are over 50, and they speculate they are baby boomers supplementing their retirement.

I guess baby boomers, there are a lot of people who would appreciate additional income right now, Twitchell said. It is something you can get into relatively inexpensively and can grow it over years time.

And keeping bees just got more lucrative. After a five year effort, bee keepers like Roger persuaded the state to let small time operators sell up to fifteen thousand dollars worth of the natural sweetener at roadside stands without having to bottle the honey in a state approved kitchen.

Each of these hives will produce about 70 pounds of honey, with about five dollars a pound.

Roger, a former vice president of the state bee keepers association, says the change will be a boon to small time bee keepers.

So we can now go to flea markets and such and sell direct, Twitchell said. We can sell to consumers. We cant do retail or wholesale.

The state says consumers wont get stung by the lack of regulation because honey doesn’t grow bacteria or fungus. And sellers must include a warning on the label. It will say Made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to Florida food safety regulations.”

In addition to back yard honey sales, the state has also deregulated the sale of other cottage foods including rolls, biscuits, and fruit pies.

Posted in Business, Economy, State News | 2 Comments »

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