This past August the beehive at Ramapo College produced about 15 pounds of surplus honey. The success of the hive has encouraged the students and faculty involved to take steps to form a beekeeping club here on campus.
Ramapo first became involved with beekeeping when the northeastern chapter of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association began having meetings at Ramapo once a month and later got in touch with the College about potentially putting beehives on campus.
The beehive material was donated from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm late last March, and by the end of last spring semester, a production beehive was established on campus in between the Village and the Sustainability Center.
Lynn Paglia, a member of the NJ Beekeepers Association, has helped maintain the hive, and works with and educates Ramapo students on beekeeping.
Eric Wiener, associate professor of environmental science, explained that Paglia has been instrumental in getting the students involved with maintaining the hive.
“Lynn is donating her time. She’s been wonderful in that she really wants to train students,” Wiener said. “We’d love to see it get to the point where she wouldn’t have to take care of the hives. She would come in and see how everything’s going once in a while, but students would be doing the actual maintenance of the hives.”
Paglia started working with students in the spring and continued through the summer.
“She showed us how to properly open and close the hives; how to inspect the frames and the honey comb making sure that everything seems normal inside the hive and making sure the queen is making her baby bees,” explained Kristen Andrada, a junior at Ramapo.
Andrada also helped Paglia harvest the honey in August, which consisted of removing the frames from the hive, extracting the honey and draining it.
Andrada is now one of the students spearheading the establishment of a beekeeping club at Ramapo with the help of Wiener, the faculty advisor.
“We want to be more community based and get more students to be involved and aware that we have these hives here,” said Andrada.
Andrada imagines that students in the club will assist with inspecting the hives, treating the hives and harvesting the honey.
In fact, one of the club’s first tasks will be to decide what to do with the honey harvested from the bees because they are expecting another harvest right now.
“We didn’t even expect one harvest during the first year and here we’re getting two,” Wiener said. “So it’s going to be for the beekeeping club to decide what to do with the honey.”
However, in addition to deciding what to do with 15 pounds of honey, Wiener also thinks the experience of beekeeping will be very rewarding for students in terms of education and experiencing something new.
“It’s exciting to see that sort of a transformational experience where people are scared of something and then, after educating themselves and actually experiencing it, they’re [students] really into it by the time it’s over,” Wiener said.
Andrada has also found beekeeping to be rewarding in more ways than just the honey.
“It’s really interesting to be involved in learning about another species besides yourself. It’s really unique,” she said.
An interest meeting in forming a new student Beekeeping Club will be held tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. in the Greenhouse classroom.