Gulf County’s newly-formed beekeepers association had settled their membership requirements and held elections for their officers quickly at their second ever meeting on Tuesday. But when it came to selecting a name, they faltered.
It had to be right — representative of the area and of the generations of beekeepers who had passed down their expertise.
The obvious choice was to name it after the tupelo that famously flavors the area’s honey. But that name had already been taken by the beekeepers association in Bay County. It had to be something unique.
“It was brought to my attention that way back, we were the Tupelo Association, here in Wewa,” said the club’s newly elected president, fifth-generation Wewahitchka Beekeeper Jim Rish. “And somehow, I’m not sure when, it migrated over to Panama City.”
“… Now, we’re not setting out to take their name or anything like that, but maybe we should consider something similar, since the Tupelo is here.”
They settled on The Ogeechee Association, a reference to a common name for the tupelo plant loosely based on its scientific name — Nyssa ogeche — and it was official.
The beekeepers association, Gulf County’s first in decades, was up and running.
Beekeeping is one of the hottest, fastest-growing hobbies in Florida, with backyard beekeepers making up 85% of the state’s registered beekeepers.
For these people, a beekeepers association provides a place in which beekeepers of all experience levels a structured environment to meet with fellow beekeepers to share and learn from beekeeping experiences.
They conduct training to improve beekeeper abilities and advance beekeeping in their local areas. More importantly, they provide face-to-face Q&As with other local experienced beekeepers.
The idea to create a beekeepers association in Wewahitchka first came from UF/IFAS Extension Agent Danny Bost from Washington County, who advertised the club and gathered a group of locals who will run it going forward.
“You guys are rolling, and that’s what I wanted to see today,” Boat told the group at the meeting. “From here on out you guys will be handling the association and its meetings.”
The club elected Rish as president, Cynde Aaron as vice president and Michael Keller as treasurer.
Each Florida beekeepers association maintains a close working relationship with the local University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) extension. They help UF/IFAS with their goal to advance the understanding of managed honey bees in Florida.
The Ogeechee Beekeepers Association will meet on the first Tuesday of every month at the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Wewahitchka, located at 232 East Lake Avenue, starting at 6 p.m. Central Time. All are welcome to attend, regardless of beekeeping experience.