Say hello to our new hive

A new beehive will be arriving at the farm this spring thanks to our Beekeeper, Jeanette Dunn, recent beekeeping course graduate Anna Knapp, and the Whole Kids Foundation. The Whole Kids Foundation Bee Grant program allows for schools and non-profit organizations to receive support for educational beehives, so students can observe bees up close and learn about the vital role these pollinators play in our food system. Our new observation hive will be installed this spring near the Community Gardens.

(similar to the hive we've been granted)

"The great thing about this observation hive is that anyone at Pitney Meadows will be able to see what we see when we're out working hives - the behavior and activity of the bees in their home.  Honey bees are just one pollinator species and my hope is that observing them in this hive will make people more aware of and curious about pollinators in general, and especially the many species that are critically endangered," said Jen Dunn, Pitney Meadows Beekeeper.

In 2017, Pitney Meadows Community Farm hosted its first three honeybee hives, which were managed by a Jeanette. Two years later in 2019, we launched an inaugural introductory mentored beekeeping class. The class was designed to guide young adult and adult students through the entire 2019 beekeeping season using a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on experience. The goal of the course was to provide participants with the confidence and experience to manage their own hives and to act as mentors for other new beekeepers. The class honeybee hives are located in a field that is a safe distance from the hub of main farm activities where most people gather. As of fall 2019, there are 20 honeybee colonies located on the farm. Throughout the spring and summer, the hives are managed every 3-4 weeks by the course instructor (an experienced beekeeper) and 6 mentored beekeepers. Routine hive management includes identifying the queen; assessing brood, pollen and nectar patterns; observing the activity and mood of the hive population; and searching for signs of disease. The hives are treated for varroa and winterized in the fall.

Our goal is to expand honeybee awareness and educational opportunities to K-12 school-aged children visiting the farm through our Farm-to-School program. This new observation hive located near the Community Gardens, will allow all farm visitors to have a better chance of interacting with honeybees in safer surroundings and without needing to don suits, veils and gloves. The presence of the observation hive will allow us to 1) complement and expand existing bee education to a younger generation; 2) integrate additional pollinator education into future Children’s Greenhouse and Farm-to-School programming; 3) educate community gardeners and visitors about the interdependence of honeybees and food; 4) inspire natural curiosity; and 5) encourage beekeeping.

"The award of an observation hive is a really exciting addition to Pitney Meadows. We are so grateful to the WholeKids Foundation and the Bee Cause Project for giving our community the opportunity to study honeybees up close without fear of being stung.  Honeybees are the mini heroes of our food system. Now folks visiting the farm will be able to look through a glass window to glimpse the incredible world of these important pollinators," said Anna Knapp, new beekeeper and one of the grant authors.

Check out the impact these wonderful hives are having across the country:

Anna Knapp & Jen Dunn (L-R)

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