In 2013 as part of our new Farm Program, we laid the foundation for an apiary with two bee hives. We lost one of our hives during the first (very cold) winter. But the hives rebounded quickly and we were able to split the hives -- as of spring 2016 we have four very robust and active hives with more than 200,000 bees.
The program is flourishing, and the students enjoy helping with all aspect of the beekeeping program.
The first year we harvested just two quarts of honey. In September 2015, our students came together to take part in the second-annual honey harvest. The school's resident beekeepers-teachers, Mr. Joe Dittrich and Mrs. Valerie Mertz, retrieved the full frames from the hives. Next, the students uncapped the wax-sealed honeycomb using a knife. Older and younger students had the opportunity to help with this; and everyone got to taste the fresh honey and chew on the wax.
To extract the honey, the frames were placed in a hand-crank honey extractor which spins the frames, forcing the honey to the walls of the drum where it then drips to the bottom. And VOILA... after all the spinning is done, there's a spigot for releasing the honey.
For the 2015 harvest, they extracted 31 half-pint jars -- almost 18 pounds of honey! We won't harvest the next batch of honey until August 2016.
In fall 2015, we were awarded a $1000 Dannette Ward Science Education Grant from Monsanto. With this grant money, we were able to buy a wide selectin of child- and teen-size bee suits and more frames and hive equipment.