What’s going on?

Florida is home to over 300 native bee species. These bees assist with the growth of agricultural crops and wild plants via pollination. Florida’s native bees are threatened by human activities like development, the introduction of nonnative species, and the application of harmful chemicals. In addition to the many native bee species, apiculture, also known as beekeeping, is an important aspect of Florida’s agricultural industry. 

There are 5,000 registered beekeepers in the state of Florida who are in charge of managing approximately 630,000 bee colonies. These bees are used to pollinate crops and are actually outsourced to other farmers around the country. Additionally, many beekeepers from other areas of the country keep their bees in Florida for the fall and winter before they lease them to farms. 

In September 2022, Hurricane Ian destroyed an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 beehives, as more than 14% of the nation’s total bee population was in the path of the storm. Experts estimate that at least 100 beekeepers will never recover from their loss. 

Why it matters.

75% of flowering plants are reliant on pollinators to produce seeds and fruit and one-third of the food that humans eat depends on honey bee pollination. The bee populations that were decimated by Hurricane Ian, could affect agriculture nationwide, as those bees were eventually supposed to be brought to other states like California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and more, to assist with pollination. 

Additionally, many beekeepers lost their equipment to the storm, making it difficult for them to continue looking after the living bees. 

What you can do.

To help the general bee population of Florida, there are many things you can do, including: 

  • Growing plants that produce nectar and bloom, like mint, basil, sunflowers, and marigolds. 
  • Planting wildflowers native to your area. 
  • Avoiding pesticides while gardening. 
  • Make and place bee boxes in your garden. 
  • If you are dealing with nuisance honeybees, ensure that you contact a licensed beekeeper or pest control company to remove them in a safe way. 

Learn more about how to help beekeepers at the Florida State Beekeepers Association website. 


Information from the New York Times, UF IFAS, Florida Museum, WUSF News, Florida Wildflower Foundation and Florida Department of Agriculture.