NIce to see a local (and I mean downtown!) beekeeper in the news…
From the Tallahassee Democrat, June 13 2014
MICHELLE GOMEZ/SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT
Rick Flagg is the Bee Man of Frenchtown
He looks like ZZ Top.
And chances are, you’ve found his smooth sound on the radio. Frenchtown Beez frontman Rick Flagg has been the “Voice of the Capitol” as a Clear Channel Media reporter since the ‘70s, but he’s finally heard his calling. It buzzes.
A Frenchtown resident for 10 years, Flagg started keeping bees five years ago. The neighborhood has changed significantly in a short time, much of it due to the community garden blossoming where drug activity once flourished.
“I add something unique to the neighborhood,” said Flagg. “And it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like honey.”
Flagg sells his honey at the Frenchtown market on Saturdays, for $5 to $10 depending on size and how cool you’d like your bottle to look. Some of the honey is bright amber, some a deep golden cherry, depending on the season in which the bees gathered the pollen. Both varieties have a wonderfully gentle, yet complex flavor. He offers tastes to market customers.
“When people try it, they realize how sweet it is, and how different it is from store-bought.”
He’s only been at the sales part for a year, which began once he had too much honey to give away to coworkers.
All of Flagg’s bees are extremely industrious females, except for a handful of drones whose sole purpose is a suicidal mating mission with the queen. From the moment the baby bee hatches and for the next 30 days (when she will die), she works her way up the division of labor to the prize job of “forager.” Or as we know her, “pollinator.”
Pollination is the reason bees are big business. Feral bees, native and wild, have been largely wiped out by viruses. Farmers depend on bees to pollinate their crops, so that squash flower will actually become a squash. Many rent bees for the job. One hive, that can house anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 bees, can go for $200. And large-scale farmers rent thousands of hives.
Flagg is never looking to get that big, though his girls do the job at the Dent Street Diggers Community Garden and iGrow Youth Farm, a program of the Tallahassee Food Network, which happens to be in his backyard.
He shares his passion for the work, training interested iGrow youth to keep bees. Flagg describes the mentorship as a necessary function, suggesting that beekeepers carry an attitude of community service.
“We all have a notion of responsibility for recruiting new beekeepers.”
As our visit came to a close a man walking by on the sidewalk asked The Bee Man about buying some honey. Flagg directed him to Saturday’s farmers market at the corner of Georgia and Macomb, but the man wanted to bring money by when he got off work.
“It’s for the neighborhood,” Flagg said.
I hope Rick doesn’t mind me sharing his picture from his Twitter account!