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Beekeeper hopes to strengthen St. Pete’s honeybee population with urban hives

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Evans says the amount of honey is largely dependent on environmental conditions and on the colony itself, but that it usually ranges from 20 to 80 pounds. Photos: Joe Opaleski.

A local attorney is turning his side hustle into his main hustle by getting St. Pete buzzed on bees.

Spencer Evans, a Stetson Law graduate who grew up on a small farm in DeLand, began learning about beekeeping as a way to “de-stress” between work and classes. When his career shifted to a more relaxed work-from-home schedule as a legal document reviewer, Evans found time to turn this pastime into a business.

“I wasn’t working a typical nine to five,” he said. “I thought: ‘you know what? I don’t think I want to be an attorney forever, so let me start making this into a reality … so that maybe one day I can be a full time beekeeper and put the attorney hat away forever.’”

The Barefoot Beekeeping Company, a title stemming from Evans’ childhood apprehension to footwear, came as a result. 

Spencer Evans at work.

Evans says the business started with beehive removals, a skill he learned while completing University of Florida’s Master Beekeeper Program. Now, he wants to create hives as well, and integrate them with Tampa Bay’s urban landscape.

“Basically, what we’re going to be doing is either people that already have beehives could hire us for the program, or we will charge a one time fee to buy bees and the hive and set them up,” Evans explained. “Then we will charge a monthly fee that will cover not only mileage, and time and everything, but also the medication, equipment and everything that goes into actively managing a beehive.” 

The starting fee to host one of these beehives is $500, and participants are rewarded with a surplus of fresh honey at the end of the year. Evans says the amount of honey is largely dependent on environmental conditions and on the colony itself, but that it usually ranges from 20 to 80 pounds.

The other benefit of hosting an urban beehive is that it helps maintain a healthy bee population in the area. According to the US Department of Agriculture, bee populations began declining significantly in 2006, a phenomenon researchers later attributed to a combination of natural pests and diseases, as well as habitat loss, pollutants and disruptive farming techniques.

Evans noted that an important part of host management at the Barefoot Beekeeping Company is consistently checking the hives for pests and disease. The company has a variety of medicines they use to keep the bees healthy, which helps the local populations thrive and continue contributing to the local ecosystem.

“We’d love to partner with local businesses to get as many (beehives) spread out all across our little peninsula here as we can,” Evans said.

The Barefoot Beekeeping Company is currently in its pilot stage, and will officially launch in early 2022. In the meantime, Evans is looking for local businesses that are interested in hive hosting, while he continues to manage 10 existing hives in partnership with the Pinellas Beekeepers Association.

 

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