Our bee program is growing thanks to community support and hard work from our volunteers and students. This spring we put in three new honey bee hives to replace the two that did not make it through the winter and moved our apiary to a new permanent location at the top of our farm field hill.
With guidance from Beekeeper Bob, our students on the autism spectrum have done a fantastic job working our bees this season - favorite tasks include lighting and using the smoker to keep the bees calm; pulling out frames to look at the bee brood (baby bees in their comb nursery cells), bees, pollen and honey; and feeding the bees with pollen patties and sugar water.
Two hives got off to a really good start this spring and are going very strong, but unfortunately the third hive did not accept its queen. We had to put a new queen in the hive and that time the hive took off. Now, the queen is laying eggs to make new bees and they are starting to make honey thanks in part to a few frames of brood (baby bees in comb cells) from our other two strong hives.
Our two strong hives are doing great and making LOTS of honey - this is terrific for a first year hive, especially. We harvested 90 pounds of honey with our students this week and left some in the hives to keep the bees strong for the fall and winter.
We have been checking the bees each month for varroa mites, which can cause hive death over the winter. In August we did find the mite levels were above 3% in two hives, so after we off honey we put medication those hives to control the mites (formic acid patties).
Stay tuned and look for our honey at our Friday Student Farm Stands this fall.
Our students on our bee program:
"I like that we sell honey to other people." - Lennon, grade 8
"What I like about the Bee Program is that we actually get to work with the bees . . we sometimes get to take home our own honey and it actually tastes good. Beekeeper Bob is REALLY nice and he doesn't boss us around a lot. I was terrified of bees when I was younger but thanks to the Bee Program, my fear of bees is no more." - Ava, grade 7
"I enjoy going out to the hives and extracting honey. I also like moving the bees around." - Nathanael, grade 7
"I like the bees and putting honey in jars." - Malachi, grade 7
"I liked it when we were dispensing the honey in the bear jars. Also when we got to take a small sample of honey home." - Nate, grade 8
Thank you to Whole Kids Foundation and The Bee Cause Project for a generous grant to support our 2022 bee program with our kids on the autism spectrum, and to Conrad Hive and Honey and the Doran Family for donating equipment. Our biggest thanks, as always, to our own Beekeeper Bob Hooker who makes our bee program possible!