A Taste of Honey Sept. 25

Honey-tasting event at USF Botanical Gardens to promote awareness of environmental issues surrounding bees while raising funds to support expanding educational programs.

By Mary Beth Erskine
USF.edu News Writer

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2010) – It's going to be one of the “sweetest” events on campus ever – a true “honey” of a good time. And it's all to support the expanding education program in bees and beekeeping at the USF Botanical Gardens, while also promoting awareness of the critical environmental issues surrounding the petite pollinators.

On Saturday, Sept. 25, from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., the USF Botanical Gardens will host its first “Honey Tasting Event.” Participants will have the opportunity to taste exotic and unusual honeys from around the globe, as well as honey produced at the gardens by USF bees, sample teas and foods made with honey, observe demonstrations of various beekeeping activities, while listening to live jazz by local group, Interlude.

Tickets are $20 and are available by calling the gardens at (813) 910-3274, emailing usfbotanicalgardents@gmail.com or stopping by the gardens' office.

Laurie Walker, director of the Botanical Gardens, said that this is the second year that the hives at USF have produced honey. “The first year we had the hives they produced about 1½ gallons of honey. This year, they produced five.”

It's not only honey production that is increasing at the gardens, but attendance at its beekeeping workshops have more than doubled since they began last year. “Interest in these programs is phenomenal,” said Walker, adding that USF is the only botanical gardens in Florida to offer training and education in beekeeping. The workshops are conducted by gardens volunteer and lifelong beekeeping enthusiast Gary Van Cleef.

Since the USF Botanical Gardens is member supported only and, therefore, generates its own revenue, Walker hopes that the event will raise funds for much needed equipment to support the educational programming, including additional hives for producing honey, an observation hive for visitors to the gardens, and a honey extractor.

The idea for a honey tasting was the brainchild of Walker's Department of Geography colleague, Robert Brinkmann. Walker has been collecting honey from colleagues from across the university. “Dan Belgrad from Humanities and Cultural Studies brought us honey from Ukraine. Fenda Akiwumi from Geography gave us honey from Russia and India, and Joni Downs from Turkey. We'll have honey from France and England, many different U.S. states, wildflower honey and some buckwheat honey. Participants should have a wonderful time comparing and contrasting all the different kinds.”

And, of course, there will be honey for sale: USF's own.