Alumna Takes On Role as First Orlando Beekeeper

Orlando’s first official beekeeper is staying busy as a — well you know — applying the knowledge she acquired as a College of Sciences graduate.

Tuesday Piper ’22 took the job as sustainability project coordinator for the City of Orlando in August, not long after leaving UCF in Spring 2022 with a BA in communication and a BS in environmental studies.

In addition to her role managing the city’s three apiaries (totaling eight hives), Piper plants native pollinator flowers and leads beekeeping education in the heart of Orlando. Everyone from K-12 students to curious adults are welcome to suit up and learn the science of beekeeping. It’s a dream job for a fresh college graduate who fell in love with beekeeping and the STEM field at UCF.

The first time she visited the hives at the UCF Arboretum, “I fell in love with the whole process of it; seeing the bees so close is amazing,” she said.

Piper is continuing her education at UCF as a graduate student pursing a degree in conservation biology.

Sustainability is at the core of Piper’s work.

For instance, part of her work with bees includes planting native wild flowers; her gardening duties most recently included a historic part of downtown called Gertrude’s Walk. That keeps the bees in the apiary on top of Fires Station 1 thriving.

She’s also sustaining a healthy interest in beekeeping among future generations. A high school program in the Parramore neighborhood called Black Bee Honey teaches students entrepreneurship through selling honey. Piper’s contribution is suiting up kids to visit the hives.

Tuesday Piper standing by beehives

“They must understand where it comes from, and what’s going on behind the scenes,” Piper said. “It is really cool to see them go into a hive for the first time.”

The curiosity and joy shown by the kids mirrors Piper’s own reaction the first time she visited an apiary.

A “service-learning” requirement for a class first led Piper to the Arboretum. What started as an easy way to check a box instantly became a passion. Volunteering led to an internship and eventually working as a teacher’s assistant for the Honeybee Biology and Beekeeping class.

Piper’s job in the heart of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. offers unique opportunities to teach agriculture. It’s a challenge she embraces.

“I think it’s important to know that agriculture isn’t just growing corn or farming cows,” she said. “It can be done on your patio.”

Comments are closed.