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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Busy Beekeepers cause a buzz

A relatively unknown club has been getting a little more buzz lately. The Busy Beekeepers are a small group of students that keep and maintain a set of beehives just outside of town. The club is co-led by Joe Lohman and David Brown (both ’14).

Started in the 2009-2010 school year, the club currently has two active beehives under the supervision of Sue Kolbe, Biology Technical Assistant at the College. Kolbe has enjoyed having the beehives on her property.

“You don’t really notice them too much. They’re just a nice, friendly hum out there. In fact, it’s actually pretty fun. In the summer, we set water out for them,” Kolbe said. “They just come and visit you. They don’t bother you at all.”

The beehives reside off campus for a few reasons, including liability for the College and large amounts of paperwork, as every resident within a few hundred yards would be required to sign off on the beehive’s location.

“A main concern was that someone would mess with the hives while they were drunk or something,” Brown said, “which would obviously be a really bad situation.”

The beekeepers examine their honeycombs. Photo contributed.
The beekeepers examine their honeycombs.
Photo contributed.

However, the group offers some sweet incentives in exchange for the work.

“We actually extracted honey for the first time this year, which was pretty cool. We got quite a few gallons, especially since we only have two hives,” Brown said.

Aside from the honey itself, it has been a unique experience for the group to see their work translated to reality in such a short amount of time.

“It’s just really cool to do this self-sustained project, where you put in the work and you reap direct benefit and products from it,” Lohman said. “The bees are doing the work of making honey, but I can look at it and say, ‘Look at this, I did the work, I put the time in and here’s something to show for it.”

Lohman and Brown have both learned quite a bit about beekeeping, including the interesting method of starting a new hive from scratch.

“When you want to start a new hive, you actually order [the bees] in the mail and you’re shipped live bees. What you get is a wooden frame box, covered in mesh, and filled with live bees. They’re buzzing in the mailroom, and the United Postal Service is legally obligated to carry them. The bees aren’t territorial then, they’re more just crazily buzzing around in their box like, ‘What on earth is happening?!’” Lohman explained. “So, when you’re making the new hive, you’re literally pouring this box of bees into the new hive box.”

The freshly deposited bees soon become accustomed to their home, and begin building the hive. The club is open to anyone regardless of experience and wishing to learn a new skill.

“It’s also really fun and simple to get into. You can learn so much so quickly,” Lohman said.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the Busy Beekeepers should email [bees].

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