The Conservancy was buzzing with fun educational activities, bee related arts and crafts, and a special presentation by beekeeper and Conservancy Maintenance Coordinator, Chris Fenstermaker.
“We played a couple different pollination games with the kids throughout the day so they can understand the bees’ role in the ecosystem and why that’s important,” Nature Center Programs Coordinator Katie Ferron said.Chris Fenstermaker is a certified Advanced
Beekeeper through the University of Florida (UF) Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab. He maintains his hives on five acres of land out in Golden Gate Estates.
“I enjoy beekeeping because it gives me the opportunity to observe the characteristics of the individual honey bees, as well as characteristics and behaviors of an entire colony,” Fenstermaker said.
About 60 parents and their children sat in for Fenstermaker’s special presentation on the honey bee. He discussed topics ranging from bee and beehive anatomy, the importance of honey bees as pollinators, as well as the mechanics of honey production.Fenstermaker first got his start as a beekeeper back in 2005, when he came across a feral colony of honey bees in a Southern Red Cedar tree. Instead of feeling frightened or repelled by the sight, he was intrigued.
“I found a feral colony in a tree and it’s such a magnificent sight. I knew that honey bee could be managed. So I got some books and equipment and dove right in,” Fenstermaker said.Fenstermaker eventually transferred the feral colony into one of his bee boxes using a smoker, a device used to calm honey bees.
“With the honeybees in my bee boxes, I was able to monitor the health of the colony and provide them with assistance to remain healthy,” Fenstermaker said.
At the end of the presentation, Fenstermaker answered questions from the audience, including a few from 15-year-old aspiring beekeeper Stephen Gauta, and raffled off some of his own honey produced by his bees. Those who didn’t receive a bottle were able to sample the honey.
“I am continuously learning, from working with these superorganisms, which helps me to promote the importance of honey bees and other pollinators.”
Coastal Breeze News met with another local beekeeper, whose hives produce honey right on Marco Island. Read all about the Marco Island Honey Company in this issue.