Largo’s husband and wife raise bees in honor of late uncle

Mark and Jamie Johnson run the Johnson family apiaries. The Largo couple have already sold 200 gallons of honey this year. Mark’s uncle Jim taught him all about bees.

LARGO, Fla .– The most important animal in the world is said to be the bee. Good luck that Mark Johnson thinks otherwise.

“Thirty percent of your food is the direct result of bees,” said Mark Johnson, standing in front of one of his many homemade beehives. “It’s amazing what bees do and what they provide to us and it is essential that we have them. “

Johnson, 33, a born and raised Floridian, developed a passion for beekeeping.

According to USDA reports, 2.67 million honey-producing colonies in 2017 generated 1.47 million pounds of raw honey. According to the National Honey Board, the per capita consumption of honey in the United States is approximately 1.51 pounds per year.

In the United States alone, there are over 100,000 beekeepers, but Mark has always had a favorite.

“My uncle always told people about the great things in life,” he said at a Saturday morning fall festival at DK Landscaping in Largo, where he and his wife, Jamie, set up a table. to sell their bottled honey.

Jim Johnson died a few years ago from cancer. He has accomplished a lot in his life, spending time as a science teacher and a mechanic. But bees were his passion. This hobby happened to Mark, who, along with Jamie, took over the Johnson family apiaries two years ago to honor Jim.

“He had a passion for people,” Jamie said, flipping through a photo album filled with photos of Jim working with bees. “He was a great man. He always made you feel so good about yourself.

This generous personality is one of the main reasons her nephew took up beekeeping.

“This is my getaway, my wife’s getaway, from the real world and the stressors that we go through,” said Mark.

The Tampa Bay Beekeepers Association has been a helpful organization for Mark. He and Jamie work in hospitals during the week and take care of their 65 beehives in their spare time.

“When his uncle died, I jumped on it with all my heart,” said Jamie, who always wanted bees and a goat as a child. “I had no idea when we first started dating he had bees.”

She jokes that she doesn’t have her goat yet. The bees have kept them busy. The couple carry out pollination and elimination of bees in addition to making honey. They really like to show off a glass viewing beehive at farmers markets and fall festivals. This gives them the opportunity to teach about bees. Mark shared the story of a 30-minute conversation he had with a teenager at the DK Landscaping Fall Festival. The child showed great interest in the hobby of beekeeping and Mark liked to share his knowledge.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We are not here to try to get rich. We just love to do it and tell people about bees.

On a folding table were a few dozen jars of honey for sale. Customers were offered four different sizes of the couple’s summer honey. Johnson Family Apiaries sold over 200 gallons of honey in 2021 and is preparing to harvest fall honey soon.

“For us, being able to inspire people, especially children, is so rewarding for us,” said Jamie, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Mark was busy talking to another family who approached to view the observation hive. He sported a smile as a small child pointed to the queen, who was easily identified by the blue dot he had painted on her back. During the first hour of the festival, many families came to see the bees.

This is exactly what the Johnsons wanted.

“It’s a vital part of who we are now,” said Mark.

Nearby, Jamie cradled her growing belly. The couple hope one day to carry on the sweet tradition with their daughter Georgia.

“Thank goodness they make baby bee suits,” Mark said with a smile.

Find the Johnson family apiaries on Instagram.

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