Last updateWed, 17 Dec 2014 11pm


The wonder of the honeybee

Chappie_-_BeeRemoval_copy Local beekeeper Chappie McChesney is a bee’s best friend.  The founder of the Alachua County Beekeepers Club answers the call when homeowners discover swarming bees near their homes.  McChesney safely removes the bees and relocates them to an area where they can safely start a new colony.

ALACHUA – The sound of buzzing makes some people duck and run for cover, especially if they look up to see thousands of honeybees flying around a bush, tree, or even on the side of a house. What if you see a huge ball of bees clinging to a branch or other area near your home?

What do you do?  Panic? Run away screaming? Call an exterminator?

Or do you do the right thing and calmly call Chappie McChesney to come out and remove the honeybees safely?

McChesney, who is the founder of the Alachua County Beekeepers Club and many other clubs in surrounding counties, has made it his passion to help save as many honeybees and other pollinators as possible. McChesney says that people should start helping the honeybees that are disappearing at an alarming rate instead of killing them every time they appear on someone’s property.

Honeybees provide people with the many foods we love to eat.  Without the pollinators, our diets would be bland consisting of mainly corn, wheat and rice. Honeybees help produce millions of dollars’ worth of crops in Florida and around the world. They help ensure a variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and beautiful flowers and trees to enjoy.

At this time of year, honeybees are trying desperately to survive by finding a new home to start another colony.  This is when the bees are seen just about anywhere they can find a cavity to build their nest. It only takes a 1/8 of an inch hole to allow them to enter and start the cycle of life over again for a new year.

Many people have heard of colony collapse disorder (CCD), where honeybees just disappear from their hives leaving the queen behind to die. Scientist have been working on finding the cause and a solution for over seven years now and still cannot say what is causing this problem.

The public can do their part locally by using fewer chemicals on gardens and flowers, and try using more natural controls to get rid of unwanted pests.  Honeybees are not pests and the human race relies on them for producing food.

Home gardeners who want to produce a good crop from their garden this year or have beautiful flowers need honeybees around their home.  Honeybees help keep the world beautiful and productive if people will take the time to help them survive.

On another front, the beekeeping community is fighting a constant battle trying to keep unhealthy honey out of stores. Much of the commercial honey consumed comes from China and other countries that do not control the chemicals or harmful heavy metals that are in imported honey.

Always buy local honey if possible to make sure you are eating pure honey and not some adulterated syrup that is often passed off as honey. Know your beekeeper….there is one near you. Having a hive of bees at home will guarantee that pollination will be done efficiently in the garden, and eating pure local honey that local bees produce is something few folks enjoy today. Bees will continue to swarm and reproduce throughout the spring and early summer in this area and club members will be ready to assist in safely removing them.

For people who want to learn more about how to help find a solution to the problems facing honeybees, McChesney can be reached at 386-462-2637 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call for assistance with any honeybee problem and he will come out and remove honeybees for free.

Local bee clubs offer a wealth of information and help for the new beekeeper.  Everyone is welcome to attend beekeeper club meetings in North Central Florida.  More information, including a video of bees being removed from homes and swarms being captured, can be found on the Alachua County Beekeepers Club website at

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Christian Fellowship Group of High Springs

HighSpringsAdamJoy9-98C40757D4D1_copy  Christian Fellowship Group members meet every other Monday at the High Springs Civic Center

HIGH SPRINGS – The Christian Fellowship Group of High Springs met on Jan. 23 at the High Springs Civic Center.  The group of young adult believers, whose ages range from 16-30, meets every other Monday evening for fellowship, bible study, free tutoring, open discussion and games.  Participants also enjoy prizes, food and fun. Minister Adam Joy encourages young adults searching to experience the love of God to join the group for the Valentine’s Day Social and Fellowship, which will be held Monday, Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Civic Center.

For further information, “LIKE” Christian Fellowship Group on Facebook, or visit

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Happenings at Shell Elementary

Shell_Elem_Champ_of_CharacterShell_Elem_parhamsShell_Elem_murwinPhoto 1:Shell Elementary Chamns of Character: L-R: Arkesia Sommons, Cameron Pedro, Ty Briscoe, Dylan Schmidt-Lewis, Cameron Mazzeo, Josh Peoples, Faith Grimes, Anna O'Brien. The Champions of Character honored 10 students during halftime at UF's Women's Basketball Game on Sunday, Jan. 15. These students were recognized for outstanding character traits.Photo 2: Paynes Prairie homes: Shell Elementary School recently completed school wide fall projects exploring Paynes Prairie. Mrs. Parham’s kindergarten class made a Sandhill Crane nest.  Photo 3: Mrs. Murwin’s 1st grade class created an alligator nest.  Over the next nine weeks students will focus on energy conservation and recycling. 

Hawthorne – Hawthorne’s Shell Elementary students have been busy over the last few months.  Loran Neubaum was selected as the school’s December Citizen of the Month. And on Jan. 15, several students were recognized as Champions of Character at the University of Florida.  First graders and kindergarteners learned about the nesting habits of birds and alligators at Paynes Prairie.  And the Plum Creek Foundation, which coordinates the Envision Alachua Community Project, awarded Shell a $9,000 grant to purchase Kindle readers for the 4th and 5th grades.

Looking ahead to February, there is an awards ceremony on Feb. 1, and report cards go home the same day.  Students will study energy conservation and recycling and observe National Children’s Dental Health Month.  The school will be undergoing improvements toward the end of the month as the UF Project Makeover Team will be on site for a school makeover. Other special days include IMom Breakfast on Feb. 24 and Florida Writes on Feb. 28.  Also on the 28th, Progress Reports go home.

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Forest Grove Christian Academy announces Honor Roll Scholars

ForestGrove_As_4176_copyForest_Grove_ABs_IMG_4167_copyPhoto 1: L-R:  Forest Grove Christian Academy students on the “Straight A Honor Roll” are Olivia Ward, Kimberly Vickers, Oakleigh Barber, David Bowden, Lindsey Leroy and Lila Horner (Kaitlyn Mosher not shown).Photo 2: Front Row, L-R: Forest Grove Christian Academy students on the “A-B Honor Roll” are Jessica Bryan, Faith Hart, Ashley Chesser, Natasha Palmer, Logan Taylor, Austin DeGraff, Maria Espinosa, Seth Mantlo, William Fuller, Garrett Wilson, (Nathan Hall and Thomas Jackson not shown).  Middle Row, L-R: Sierra Roberts, BJ Vickers, Tyler Grubbs, Devan Davis, Mackenzie Vacchiano, Jessica Vickers, Olivia Hall, Martin Pickard, Ben Chesser, Sarah Harmeier, Sam Roberts, Dallas Hunter. Back Row, L-R: Alyssa Harmeier, Katlyn Strope, Amber Holder, Hannah Strope, Owen Williams, Zephan Toundas, Matthew Brooks, Daniel McConnell, Isaiah Brantley, Kevin Cauthen, Charles Pickard, Marybeth Pickard, Eddie Otto and Matthew Delaney.

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Students, parents can explore high school career academies at forum

ALACHUA COUNTY – Alachua County school officials are encouraging students who will be heading to high school this fall and their families to learn more about the district’s wide variety of highly-successful career academies by attending this year’s Career Academy Forum.

The annual event, which usually draws well over 500 people, will be held Thursday, Jan. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Buchholz High School in Gainesville at 5510 NW 27th Avenue. Students and families will be able to view displays and talk to teachers and current students of each of the district’s thirteen career academies. They can also learn about the eligibility requirements and application process.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for incoming high school freshman and their families to learn more about the many programs we offer,” said Nancy Iafrate of the district’s career and technical education department. “Those programs will help them get a head start on a lucrative career while they earn their high school diplomas.”

More than 1,100 Alachua County high school students are currently enrolled in the career academies, which offer a rigorous curriculum in a wide range of fields, including health care, information technology, marketing and finance. Students in the programs have access to internships and many will graduate from high school with state certification in their chosen fields, making them much more marketable when it’s time to look for a job. Students can also earn college credits and scholarships while attending the academies.

“These programs are a terrific pathway into both post-secondary education and the job market,” said Iafrate. “Students are developing skills in some of the fastest growing careers of the next decade.”

Each career academy will also have its own open house in January and early February. A link to the complete open house schedule is available on the district’s website at The link can be found under ‘Upcoming Calendar’ on the right-hand side of the home page. More information is also available through the district’s Career and Technical Education office at 352-955-7600.

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