June 09, 2016
Our mailroom received a bit of a surprise recently when a package arrived that was positively buzzing. Six pounds of honey bees can make a lot of racket.
The bees—nearly 20,000 of them—were installed into their new hives at the university's Center for Environmental Education and Research. The installation is one of the first activities of the newly formed Susquehanna Beekeepers Club, founded by junior earth and environmental sciences (EES) major Josh Levesque.
A kind of equal-opportunity go-to man, Levesque is the kind of guy who is willing to try anything once: building a green roof, German folk dancing, and now bees.
"I like to do weird, random experiences," Levesque, of Westminster, Md., said. "You never know what's going to happen."
Installation of the bees into the hives—there are two of them—is a tricky process, and junior EES majors Katie Fischer and Quintin Diou-Cass were talked through it by Derek Straub, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Dave Owens, of Owens Farm, Sunbury, Pa., and a member of the Beekeepers of the Susquehanna Valley.
After suiting up in beekeeper suits, Fischer, of Clarks Summit, Pa., and Diou-Cass, of Manchester, Maine, sprayed down the two screened boxes containing the bees with a sugar water solution, which distracts the bees enough that they can be handled. Then they gingerly removed a small cage from each box that contained the queen and placed it—with the queen still inside—inside of the new hives. Fischer and Diou-Cass finally poured the thousands of bees into the hives.
Eventually, Straub and his students plan to conduct research on the hives, placing sensors inside to monitor temperature, humidity and the volume of noise the bees are making. But for the first year, Straub said they will allow the hives to become established, monitoring their condition and feeding the bees when necessary.
"These hives will increase plant health in the Selinsgrove community and hopefully inspire people to keep more bees themselves," Levesque said. "The more bees the better!"