Washington County farmers, ranchers honored at City-Farm Banquet

Published: Friday, November 16, 2012 at 12:35 PM.

Laurence Cutts — Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award

Receiving the 2012 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award was Laurence Cutts, Washington County’s legendary beekeeper.

Laurence Cutts was born in 1935 in Snowden, Ala. His family started beekeeping when his Grandfather accepted eight hives of bees in lieu of a last payment on a sewing machine he had sold, Andreasen said. His family continued acquiring hives in Alabama and in Washington and Walton Counties in Florida. During the war, the Poplar trees were being cut down and used to build ammunition boxes, taking away a major food source for the bees in Alabama. Cutts’s father, Paul Cutts, moved the family to Chipley in 1943.

Cutts graduated from high school in 1954 and started attending Florida Christian College in Temple Terrace. “After a few months, he told his father that he would rather dig ditches for the rest of his life than go to college one more day,” Andreasen said.  “Thinking he would change his mind, Laurence’s father brought him home and put him to work digging footers for a new honey house. But Laurence didn’t change his mind and that was the beginning of his long career in the beekeeping industry.”

In 1985, Cutts began work with the Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry as the Bureau Chief of Apiary Inspection. His beekeeping expertise became widely known as he traveled to the Caribbean, Mexico and Australia speaking and teaching about bees. He often teaches elementary school children about bees during our Washington County Ag in the Classroom programs, Andreasen said.

Cutts continued to work with the Department of Agriculture until his retirement in 2003.  Cutts moved back to Chipley after his retirement and continues to live in Chipley and work in beekeeping.  He remains active in the beekeeping industry serving on several advisory boards and holding beekeeping seminars.

This past February, Cutts was inducted into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame becoming the first beekeeper to receive this prestigious recognition. He was involved in the planning and instruction in the first Extension multi-state interactive video training for bees this past winter as well as the Bee Field Day & Trade Show, coming up at the Washington County Ag Center on Saturday, Dec. 1.

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