in their short six-week lifetime. Every now and
then they have to buy a new queen $25-$30 but
generally the bees do their own thing without a lot
of maintenance. The couple estimates they spend,
all told, one day a month on the hive.
A MIGHTY PEST
The biggest headache for hive owners is the Varroa
hive mites. They penetrate the hive and spread
viruses among the bees, according to Ellis. They can
be controlled by traps in the hive or by an ingenious
method used by Sorensen — a Swiffer sheet inside
the hive. Mites get trapped in the sheet and die.
One of the local experts is Clifton Best of Cocoa.
He’s the leader of Brevard Backyard Beekeepers Inc.,
a nonprofit and one of the bee clubs in the county.
Best is a professional bee wrangler, the guy you call
when a swarm shows up on your property. He’s also
the official beekeeper for the Brevard Zoo and gives
lectures at the zoo from time to time.
The cost for removing a swarm of bees is $200-$400,
and Best gets to keep the bees, which are sold off to
start new colonies. He cautions against calling pest
control companies because they kill the bees.
62: SPACE COAST LIVING | SPACECOASTLIVING.COM
Clifton Best of Cocoa, leader of Brevard Backyard Beekeepers Inc., points to a queen bee,
the most important bee in a hive, who can lay up to a million eggs in its lifetime.
Best, a professional bee wrangler as well as a beekeeper, usually forgoes the use of protective
clothing while tending to his hives.
“The important thing is to have a healthy queen,”
Best says. He says queens can live two to five years
“and lay 500,000 to a million eggs in their lifetime.”
Best, who knows his way around a hive, usually
works without a bee suit.
“They aren’t normally aggressive,” he says. To prove
his point, he sticks his bare finger in a hive to point
out the queen.
A fellow beekeeper, Ed Brittain of Cocoa, is more
cautious. He suits up when working his hives and >>