Beekeepers Sweeten the Season

Will Andrews (11) pulls out a sheet of honeycomb

As the summertime weather begins to wane, the start of the fall harvest is beginning to come to fruition throughout British Columbia. For the St. George’s Beekeeping and Gardening Club, this meant their annual honey harvest. From September 14th to the 18th, the club went through the process of extracting their precious, sweet liquid gold.

Located about 5 blocks away from the school property, the beehives are the centre of the Beekeeping Club. The beehive is on a private property, and with the property owner’s permission, the club operates their ever-productive garden, and their beloved hives.

Beekeeping truly is a year round project, and requires lots of maintenance, 12 months a year. The season generally starts in mid March, when the club members go to the hives to investigate how the winter has fared for their friendly buzzing friends. In April and May, the boys check for eggs and larvae in the hive, as these are often not produced over the winter months. This checking continues into the summer months, as the health of the hive is always a concern. When classes resume in September, it is finally time for the boys to harvest the ooey, gooey, goodness that is honey.

To extract the honey, the first task is to pump smoke into the hive in an effort to replicate the effects of a forest fire. By doing this, the bees instinctively head to the bottom of the hive. This process also sedates the bees, giving club members more time and space to take out the precious honeycombs. Once all the combs are collected, they are taken back to school, and thus the extracting process begins.

In the extracting process, as Grade 12 Chad Carbol puts it, “we use a spinning machine, which uses gravitational force to extract the honey from the combs”. The spinning machine simply pumps out all of the delicious honey, which is put into big tubs before being jarred by club members, and sponsor teacher Mr. Duhme and Mr. Kaethler.

As one of the fastest growing clubs in the school, there is large variety of students involved, ranging from new grade 8 students to veteran grade 12 boys. When asked of his thoughts on the club, grade 12 student Nathan “N8” Fong responded, stating “[Beekeeping is] a club that allows students to learn outside of the classroom, try something new, and bee one with the hive”. Fellow Grad Chad Carbol concurred, saying “Beekeeping is like a waterfall of hope. The aroma of sweet, golden honey saturates our nostrils with happiness.”