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WCHS Bee Apiary giving students new experience

Brooke McCrary

Special to The Chronicle

This school year has opened up so many opportunities for the Wilson Central students and the faculty. 

One of the most exciting is the new bee apiary that was built over the summer for the agricultural classes and FFA. Since the apiary was built, students within the agricultural environment have begun to grow close with the bees. This opportunity was given to Wilson Central by Mike Davis, school board superintendent, because he felt that it would be something exciting and new for FFA members to be involved. 

Apparently he had the right idea in mind because the news of our bee apiary has spread. On Wednesday, Oct. 17, the 2012 Leadership Wilson Group came to visit Central to learn more about our newfound bee program. Our guest had the privilege to hear Jerry McFarland, Danielle Drueck, and Pam Walker go through the process of taking care of the bees, and what it is like to make your own honey.

 Danielle Drueck said, “It is fun to watch the bees in their own environment and seeing how they react to everything.” 

The way Mrs. Drueck described the actions of the bees seemed like it was something really amazing to see. She is able to go through the whole process with the bees until it is time to take to honey from the strainers. She says, “We hopefully get to collect honey twice a year, but if not twice then at least once.”  

Once the honey frames are taken from the hives, they are placed in an extractor that spins the honey from the honeycomb. The honey being produced at Wilson Central is 100 percent pure honey with nothing added to it. Honey does not require any preservatives because it is shelf life stable for many years. It never goes bad, it never spoils, and it is naturally safe because bacteria won’t grow in it. 

Most people may have had concerns about students and even faculty being harmed by the bees, but it seems as though that was never a worry from Ms. Walker. “I was never scared of what would happen with the bees. Some students were timid but now seem excited by having the opportunity to do this…Most people also do not realize that bees are more scared of us than we are of them. If they feel threatened by us harming their hive they will do anything to protect it.” Ms. Walker informed us that in order to keep the bees calm while they are collecting honey you use smoke to put them at ease. 

Each of the students that are able to participate in this new activity were excited to work with the bees and see hands on what it is like to be a bee keeper. Ms. Walker said, “No students have been stung so far and when anyone goes out to tend to the bees they have to wear one of our 30 suits to protect them from the chance of being stung.” 

While the presentation was going on Mr. McFarland was answering many questions but he was mostly the hands on demonstrator for the presentation. He showed the group how the honey is collected and bottled. Honey can be strained to different degrees in order to leave in or remove pollen. The WCHS honey is strained, but not to a high degree. Pollen is left in the honey to make it appropriate to be used by those who consume it daily to help fight pollen allergies. It has been proven to be affective in this regard. 

There is plenty of bees wax that comes from the strainers. Many people think that bees wax is not very useful, but it can be used to make a variety of products, including body butter and lip balm. While everyone had the chance to try the honey, it was interesting to see that many people were also tasting the bees wax. By the expression on their faces, it would seem that not only was the honey delightful, but the wax was as well. 

The Roar talked with Ms. Walker  to get her thoughts are this privilege and also some facts about the day.

TR: How do you think the presentation helped the FFA program?

PW: Any time a group of community leaders come to see what our school is doing it helps not only the program they come to observe, but also reflects positively on the school. Having such a recognition from a group of community leaders allows the community to see the progressive and educational experiences our students get to have at WCHS and in this instance, in our FFA and Agriculture program.

TR: On the day of the presentation how many jars of honey did FFA sell?

PW: We sold most of what we had on hand that day, but the idea of the day was not to sell honey. It was to inform Leadership Wilson about our bee program. Selling the honey was just a last minute thought that we had. Since the group was offered a taste of the honey, we thought it would be a good idea to have some for sale in case anyone wanted to make a purchase. It was a good plan: we sold a lot of honey.

TR: How many jars of honey does the FFA have left? 

PW: We have a limited quantity left. We will not be collecting anymore honey this year because it is only healthy to take honey once or twice in the fall. We have nine hives and if we take too much honey the bees will not survive the winter, because that is what they eat to be able to survive.

Who knew that such little bees could produce so many wonderful things? Wilson Central’s FFA chapter members and advisors who take care of the bees should be very proud of themselves. They have done something really cool and interesting that has brought attention to our school. It is always nice to have the chance to experience something new like interacting with bees. So thank you to all of those people who have supported the WCHS FFA Wildcat Apiary from the very beginning.

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