Alwyn “Oxx” Simeina, the founder of Oxx Beekeeping, is a St.Lucia native who has been producing honey for six years in Orlando, Florida. But he admits getting started wasn’t easy.
“I always ate raw honey,” explained Simeina. “There was a beekeeper in Jacksonville [Florida] that I used to get my honey from; I asked him to teach me to farm but he said no.”
That opened the door for Simeina to learn how to become his own beekeeper.
“For the first year, I just read a lot and then I got hives and it started growing more and more,” he said.
Simeina now has roughly ten hives and has made a business out of beekeeping on his 1-acre farm. He is now able to supply raw honey to his Orlando community. With flu season in full swing, the beekeeper has created a “flue fighter” using his honey and other ingredients.
“It has spices from St. Lucia,” he explained. “It’s pollen, nutmeg, turmeric, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. The main ingredient is called star anise, that’s the main item used in Tamiflu.”
But Simeina says honey is not the only benefit, they are responsible for pollinating one in every three bites of food we eat.
“Eighty percent of our fruits and vegetables are pollinated by honeybees,” explained Simeina. “Seventy percent of commercial beekeepers are in California, starting the end of this month until February. That’s when they pollinate all the almonds — that’s where they make the almond milk.”
So how does Simeina get his bees? He also has a bee removal business.
“She called me like, ‘Hey, my neighbor has a whole bunch of bees on a tree,’ so I shook them in a box this small,” Simeina said.
The bee removal company helps him supply his farm with enough bees to keep the honey production going.
“In America, you can harvest honey about twice a year. I harvest honey throughout the year because I don’t take all of my bees’ honey,” said Simeina. “Most beekeepers take all the bees’ honey and give them a sugar water supplement. I don’t practice that, I usually just take a few frames at a time.”
Simeina, who now teaches youth and adults in the community how to become urban beekeepers, told Atlanta Black Star that beekeeping is a lot of work but learning how the insect contributes to our food security is exciting.
“I have passion fruits back here. Any real farmer will have bees in their garden.”