All abuzz: Devereux Georgia youth learn about beekeeping through campus beehives
Youth at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Georgia are buzzing with excitement as they gain hand-on experiencing learning about beekeeping.
In 2018, Devereux Georgia teamed up beekeepers Bobbi VanHorn and Tambria Stinson to move bees that were in an existing hive on campus.
“At the time, we had an observation hive – a small hive with a glass panel that enables you to see the bees – in our library,” said Devereux Vice President of Operations Gwen Skinner. “Bobbi learned of this and suggested we move the bees outside. Three years later, we have two healthy hives. Bobbi and Tambria do an excellent job of maintaining the hives and helping to educate the individuals in our care, as well as our team members, about bees.”
Typically, bees do not produce much honey during the first couple of years in a hive. VanHorn says she was surprised the tiny but mighty insects in one of Devereux Georgia’s hives produced nearly 50 pounds of honey this year.
“Bees produce honey during the spring when the nectar flows: They collect nectar from trees, flowers and plants and turn it into honey,” VanHorn explained. “By the end of June or early July, you can begin to harvest honey from the hive. We didn’t expect to see very much honey this year. One day, we opened the hive and ended up harvesting about 28 pounds of honey. A few weeks later, we discovered the bees had produced nearly the same amount. We decided to get the kids involved in the harvesting process.”
VanHorn and Stinson carefully removed wooden frames from the hive that held the honeycombs, laid the frames on wax paper and used a hot knife to cut off the caps of the honeycombs. Devereux Georgia youth then helped VanHorn and Stinson place the frames in a honey extractor to spin out the honey, before filtering and bottling the sweet treat.
“Our kids loved helping out – they were really into it and asked a lot of questions about commercial beekeeping and beekeeping in general,” noted Devereux Georgia Director of Development Brenda Vazquez who also participated in the honey harvesting. “The bottled honey was made available to our staff for purchase. We also sold some bottles in the community. All of the funds will be reinvested into our programs and services.”
Educating, inspiring youth
This fall, VanHorn and Stinson will regularly check on the hives to make sure the bees have enough honey to last through the winter. Next summer, they will begin the harvesting process once again. VanHorn says she is grateful to share her beekeeping knowledge with Devereux Georgia youth.
“I love working with kids,” shared VanHorn. “You never know what’s going to peak someone’s interest. If I’m showing a child how to harvest honey and they say, ‘This is super cool,’ or ‘This is something I want to sink my teeth into,’ as a former educator – that’s what it’s all about. When you give your knowledge to others, it’s truly a gift.”
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