During an era of COVID-19 restrictions, Cornell’s Bee Club remains in bees-ness with in-person beekeeping and educational events.
Catherine Crosier ‘22, one of the Bee Club’s co-presidents, says that the club’s purpose is to educate more people about bees in both a classroom setting and through hands-on activities — promoting responsible, fun beekeeping.
The club holds biweekly meetings to discuss bees, their environmental impact and beekeeping.
One aspect of the club that couldn’t move virtually was beekeeping, and the club’s executive board hoped to provide its members with a hands-on learning opportunity to maintain involvement.
The Bee Club successfully planned several hive inspections and honey extraction events, limiting the meetings to 10 people, per University COVID guidelines.
“There were two e-board members per shift to monitor everything with the hive inspection, and we swapped every half hour so new members got to take a look at the bees,” said Alexandra Michael ’23, the club’s social media chair.
Currently, hive inspections take place in two shifts with seven members each. During an inspection, students check on the health of bees by searching for abnormal egg growth, smells and signs of disease, among other risk indicators.
Similarly, the honey extractions took place in four shifts so that more members had the opportunity to get involved. The club also live streamed extractions to include all community members who couldn’t participate in person, according to Michael.
Bee Club works primarily from the Dyce Lab for Honey Bee Studies. Students took turns making native bee hives outdoors and conducting honey extractions inside the lab, which consist of members putting frames in centrifuges to extract the honey and then bottling it.
Afterwards, participants are able to keep some of the honey they extract in a contactless pick up.
Crosier attributed the club’s liveliness this year to its members’ enthusiasm for beekeeping despite socially-distant events.
“Even though we haven’t been able to be in-person, the energy in the club is as strong as ever, if not stronger,” Crosier said.
As club meetings moved online, attendance rose, according to Crosier. Zoom removed the hurdle of getting to a physical meeting site and made it easier for new members to check out the club.
Although the board was nervous coming into the new semester, Crosier is thankful for the participation of new members and her peers.
“I’m really grateful for the work my co-office has done and the energy that new students have brought. It’s been so encouraging to see people stoked about Bee Club.”
The Bee Club is in the process of building a new shed for beekeeping. Crosier hopes that the club will be able to gather in-person next semester to paint both the shed and new hive boxes in a fun-filled organization night. She also hopes that the club will be able to do weekly hive inspections in the following semester.