Union’s Beekeeping Project is an initiative started by Emily Monac ’18, a Spanish major from Medfield, Massachusetts. Monac hopes to become Union’s first campus beekeeper by turning her project into the Beekeeping Club. She applied for and is in the process of achieving club status.
If accepted by Student Forum, Union’s Beekeeping Club will consist of opportunities such as hands-on hive tending, honey extractions and talks on the importance of bees to the environment and agriculture. Monac was awarded a Presidential Green Grant in Fall 2015. She was inspired to become a beekeeper herself after watching a Ted Talk concerning the importance of bees to agriculture and hearing her father’s memories of his mother’s backyard hives.
She installed her first two hives in May 2016 and credits success in her efforts to Allie Novak ’17 as well as three faculty beekeepers: Vernon Castillo (Admissions), John Rieffel (Computer Science) and Charlie Casey (Communications.) Monac reports that she completed two honey extractions from the colonies: 50 pounds in July and an additional 100 pounds reported by her friends who extracted while Monac was on a term abroad in September.
As is common with beginner beekeepers, Union’s first two hives were unsuccessful, likely because of a tough frost in October. Losing the bees did not deter Monac’s project. Compiling the proceeds from both fall honey sales and a bee bake sale during this term, she raised enough money to purchase two new nucleus colonies of bees and a new full-length beekeeping suit. Monac currently spends her extra hours preparing for her new bees in May.
Student Forum voiced some concerns about safety. She will meet with her faculty beekeeper advisors in addition to Union’s environmental safety officer, as well as the head of student activities to discuss the many merits of having a bee club and what it could provide to Union’s campus. There are multiple successful campus beekeeping clubs in the Northeast. Institutions that have these clubs include places such as Cornell University and Boston University.
The University of Albany also is in the process of creating its own beekeeping initiative. Monac encourages all interested students, faculty and community members to contact her with any comments or suggestions concerning the formation of the Beekeeping Club at Union. For those interested in learning more details about her club, Monac can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.