Posted by: amynosal | October 5, 2012

There’s Something Sweet About Conserve School!

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This past week at Conserve School CS5 students have been indulging in the sweeter side of life – with honey bees, that is!  Conserve School maintains an apiary adjacent to the garden, as well as an observation hive in the entryway of the Lowenstine Academic Building.  Students braved the intimidating hum of the hives to collect honey and locate the queen bees so that the hives may be better monitored and cared for.

Jean Haack, Stewardship Coordinator, is the true queen bee of Conserve School’s apicultural operations.  Students worked with her to locate the queen bees of our hives.  This investigation into the hives required the proper protective gear and equipment such as the smoker that calms the bees.  With the students’ help all of our queens have been accounted for!  Hopefully we can strengthen our observation hive which has struggled since its inception earlier this year.  Stay tuned!

Jean also guided students through the steps of the honey extraction process.  It begins after the frames of full honeycombs cells are removed from the hives.  A filled frame has a layer of wax over it which the bees created to seal in the honey.  This waxy lid is easily removed with a knife.  The exposed honeycombs are then placed in a centrifuge and rapidly spun around to pull out the honey.  Lastly, the honey is filtered to remove bits of wax and dead insect matter.  The now empty honeycombs and frames will be saved and reused next year.  In the end students collected about 10 pounds of honey and treated themselves to fresh honey-covered wax (Did you know the wax was edible?).

– Graduate Fellow Amy Nosal

Thank you to Graduate Fellow Rebecca Deatsman and Graduate Fellow Program Coordinator Fran McReynolds for the photos.  I would also like to extend a 2nd ‘thank you’ to Rebecca for her explanation of the extraction process.

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