Bees Buzz Back after Honey Heist

Susquehanna University beehives
Susquehanna University honey

November 05, 2019

Susquehanna’s beehives have been buzzier than ever, producing more than 150 pounds of honey seven months after being ransacked by a hungry bear.

It was in March when a black bear with a sweet tooth broke into the beehives outside of the Center for Environmental Education and Research. The bear left two of the three hives intact, but tore apart the remaining hive.

Despite efforts to lure him with doughnuts, the bear was never apprehended.

At the time, Derek Straub, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and advisor to the Beekeeping Club, which maintains the beehives, feared the hive would be lost completely.

But the hive’s queen somehow survived the attack, and therefore so did the hive.

“Bees are resilient,” Straub said.

The club also credits their bee mentor, Lloyd Knouse, with providing them the support and supplies they needed to overcome the bear break-in.

“Lloyd has been indispensable in his wisdom,” said Lucas Winner, a senior earth and environmental sciences major. “He knows all of the nuances of beekeeping that you can’t learn anywhere else.”

After news of the bruin burglary went national, alumni crowdfunded more than $1,350 to directly support the Beekeeping Club. Funds were used to construct a fence to safeguard both the bees and honey.

The club has since added two additional hives for a total of five. They hope to add a sixth. The 153 pounds of honey extracted in 2019 is more than three times the amount of honey harvested the previous year.

This year’s honey sales have netted about $1,400, all of which is used to maintain the beehives.

Looking back, club members shake their heads at the media attention the honey heist garnered. After being reported by WNEP TV, the story was picked up by more than 200 news outlets in 40 states and Canada. It was even reported by TIME and CNN.

“It was crazy,” Winner said. “I have a friend in Italy who saw the story on YouTube!”

“And it helped recruit new members,” said club president Shian Knouse, a senior earth and environmental sciences major. “We had students approach us at the student activities fair who said they came to Susquehanna for the bees.”

“Everyone loves to talk about the bees,” Straub added with a laugh.

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