This spring we started a beekeeping program at Learning 4 Life Farm! The kids love helping Beekeeper Bob Hooker with safe, simple beekeeping tasks and learning about the hive.
Check out the cool video below showing the process of installing our first hive complete with bee facts, student questions and phase one of our “Name the Queen Bee” contest (Beatrice? Bubba?) plus a great writeup by one of our students.
Our student beekeepers got an education in what happens when a newly established hive decides not to accept the queen this spring. This happens in a small percentage of new beehives purchased from a kit with workers and a queen, and unfortunately it did happen to our new hive. The female worker bees started laying unfertilized eggs which hatch into thousands of male drones! Apparently the worker bees hope a drone will be able to fly out and mate with a queen from another hive, passing on the hive genetics. Our solution: start a new hive with a new queen and worker bees. Interesting and educational experience, though, and we had fun taking care of this first hive even if it is doomed. Plus, our Directors Ms Jill Frazier Medley and Brynne Howitt Artim got to try their hand at beekeeping that day!
In June we brought in a new hive to replace our queenless drone factory. The hive is doing great and the bees are raising babies and making honey. Our old queenless hive is still doing surprisingly well and we even harvested a little honey! At the end of the summer we’ll harvest a lot more.
Thank you so much to Beekeeper Bob Hooker and Mary Hooker for donating the hive and creating our honey bee program for our students on the autism spectrum here at the Farm and TLS North East - Johnstown.