Bees abuzz on campus

Posted by Karen Lykins - Thursday, July 08 2010
klykins@tntech.edu
Office of Communications & Marketing

thumb_Dr_Green_beesThere’s no gossip, but a literal buzz, coming from Tennessee Tech University this weekend as about 400 Heartland Apicultural Society members swarm campus for their annual meeting.

Apiculture, the keeping of bees on a large scale, promises to offer sustainable pollination and of course, honey, on TTU’s Waters Farm, so this was a natural fit for the organization.

“We purchased 12 colonies for a faculty grant research projects, and this conference will allow us to highlight several opportunities, including our university’s commitment to the green revolution and sustainable agriculture,” said Bruce Greene, TTU agriculture professor.

Nathaniel Collett, an agriculture major helping Greene manage the bees, says this summer the bees are being fed sugar water two days a week because they arrived  between flowering seasons.

“Next summer, we expect the bees to pollinate plants on the farm and begin producing honey we can sell on campus and in the community at the Farmer’s Market,” said Collett.

The conference, hosted in cooperation with the University of Tennessee, meant having to provide colonies, which house about 2,000 bees each, in a convenient location for training.

That location, temporary home to six colonies brought by UT representatives for demonstrations, turned out to be President Bob Bell’s Walton House lawn. Collett says the area is clearly marked so the bees aren’t a danger to unsuspecting visitors.

Conference topics include the expected getting started in beekeeping, queen-rearing basics, and honey management, but there’s also drama and conflict covered during “Bear vs. Beekeepers” and “Blue Sky, Dragonflies, and How to Keep Our Bees out of the Neighbor’s Pool.”

HAS was founded in 2001, and according to agricultureguide.com, today there are more than 210,000 beekeepers in the United States who maintain more than 3 million bee hives.

Bee facts from honeybee.com

  • There is only one reproductive bee, the queen, in each hive.
  • The queen can lay from 1,500 to 3,000 eggs per day.
  • The life span of a worker honeybee is only four to six weeks during the summer, and as many months in the winter.
  • It takes 8 to 10 pounds of nectar to make a pound of honey.
  • It takes 8 to 10 pounds of honey to make a pound of beeswax.
  • To produce a pound of honey, bees travel about 55,000 miles, and visit some 2 million flowers.
  • The average American consumes about 1.3 pounds of honey per year.
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