This article appeared in the November 2011 issue of BEELINE, the publication of the Southern Adirondack Beekeepers Association
My name is Jamie Crouse and I am an administrator at the Robert C. Parker School, a Pre K – 8 school in North Greenbush, NY. This past year we have embarked on a beekeeping adventure, sparked by a student of ours and brought to fruition thanks to one of your members, Tony Antonucci.
Our motivating student, Jack Ross-Pilkington, 7th grade, attended a SABA meeting back in March when he became a member to try and recruit a mentor for us. Tony has been an integral part of our project here at Parker and we were hoping to highlight this wonderful relationship by publishing our story in your newsletter, if you find it appropriate to do so.
I’ve attached the file that Jack wrote and I’d be happy (or Jack, I’m sure) to answer any additional questions you might have for us.
Jamie Crouse, Planet Parker Coordinator
The Robert C. Parker School Bee Project
By Jack Ross-Pilkington
Last winter I saw a movie called “Queen of the Sun” about Colony Collapse Disorder and I got concerned about bees disappearing. I wanted to do something, and (after my mom ruled out hives on our roof) I went to my school and asked if they would do beekeeping. They suggested that I write a proposal, so I did some research about what equipment costs. The school seemed perfect in many ways because they have 70 acres with a mix of meadows, forest, and gardens. A group of us (including a Parker mom who had raised bees before) started holding meetings to talk about the idea.
At this point we were interested, but if it was going to happen we knew we would need money and a mentor to teach us how to care for the bees and the hives. To raise money, we wrote letters to some businesses, including Dreyers (because I noticed that Haagen Dazs cartons say “We love bees.”). Dreyers gave $900 and Rodney Dow, our first mentor, gave us a hive box that he helped us build and a nuc of Carniolans that he delivered to us from Vermont.
We knew we needed a local mentor, someone who would help us and teach us about the bees. We decided to go to a SABA meeting, and my mom called to ask if I could speak. So after the speaker, last March, I stood up and asked if anyone would mentor us. People were nice, but most people lived too far away or had doubts about bees at a school. But Anthony Antonucci came up and volunteered. He lived real close to the school, had kept bees years ago and was just getting back into it.
We could never have done this without Tony. He was there this summer when our bees swarmed to recapture them. He has met with the bee club and showed us what to do each step of the way. Tony works with us, explaining what he is doing, and letting us do however much we want to do. He recently helped us get our hive ready for winter, and we are looking forward to splitting our hive in the spring and harvesting our honey…with Tony’s help.
Kids will come and go at Parker, learning about beekeeping and then graduating. Hopefully though, the bees will stay an important part of the school. Hopefully, too, Tony will stay involved because he has taught us a lot and with his help, Parker will raise bees and future beekeepers!