By: Jessica Kaplan
No pun intended, but there's certainly a buzz around the greenhouse this May! Joining us this growing season are European honey bees! Specifically, Italian bees. They are known for their gentleness when handled, their superior honey production, and their ability to endure the cold winter months. We have two established hives with a combined amount of between 30,000 to 40,000 bees! This number should be around 50,000 by the end of June!
Fun Fact! There are no native honey bees to North America! Honey bees were brought to Massachusetts and Virginia colonies to pollinate fruit trees. Since then, the United States has created a mixture of honey bees from all over Europe. You may be asking “Why would you want bees next to a greenhouse?” The answer is simple, they're great for our surrounding community, as well as the organic vegetable garden that is located beside the greenhouse!
Location, location, location! When it comes to choosing a spot for the hives you need to consider a few things. The bees should not be in an area with pesticide usage, they should have flowers and fields in the area to explore and gather pollen, and not be in an area where there are a lot of other managed hives that would create competition. Our Stony Brook greenhouse met all the criteria and are now the home of some happy bees!
They have already taken well to their Stony Brook home and according to Moira, (our fantastic beekeeper from the Long Island Beekeepers Club) the bees have brought back about four different colors of pollen! This means that they are exploring and finding multiple places to pick up pollen! The bees take flight to various locations and come back with either news of success or not, and this tells the other bees whether it's worth the time to go back! Pretty cool, right?
We can't forget the honey! It is expected that each hive should produce roughly 60-70 pounds of honey! Thanks to the determination of Alaina Claeson, and a dream of our former late Head Swimming and Diving Coach Dave Alexander, we are now the home to beautiful honey bees- another brick in the sustainable foundation here at Stony Brook.