Bees & Honey
by Kate Rudd
We added an exciting feature to Haw Creek Commons recently - bee hives! We started with four hives: two Langstroth hives whose focus is honey production, and two top bar hives whose focus is beeswax production. The bee yard is complete with bear fencing (aka electrical fencing) as well as a privacy fence to deter hive theft (apparently a big deal in North Carolina).
The bee yard is primarily managed by Holly Roach, a community activist, entrepreneur, and the founder of our Sunday evening Christian Contemplation meditation group and potluck. She spearheaded starting Haw Creek Bee Club which meets monthly at Haw Creek Commons for free classes. We currently have 11 members - two of which, upon being inspired by our classes, have now decided to become Certified Bee Keepers! Members have started helping to care for the bees when Holly and I are out of town and there are plans to develop a rotating care schedule once people feel more comfortable. This has been a great point of connective activity while we await construction completion and has generated excitement.
A few weeks ago we made "bee candy," a super saturated sugar mixture with apple cider vinegar and medicinal essential oils that will act as food all winter for the hives, and will soon finish winterizing the hives. We have already used the site for teaching the Haw Creek Elementary Homegrown Kids after school program during our All About Insects class and it was very well received by kids and parents alike. We hope to do additional programming this coming year - possibly paid workshops to generate income and create sustainable programming.
Our rationale behind the installation of a bee yard was several fold: 1) pollinators are becoming extinct due to chemical sprays and pesticides, 2) we wanted our vegetable garden pollinated, 3) it's a fantastic point of sustainable education and demonstration, 4) it will become a source of honey for our programming at HCC, 5) it may potentially generate income through honey and nuke (bee "starter packs" for spring hives) sales, and most importantly, 6) we had a community member approach us and want to help lead an awesome program on our site! It is the perfect picture of having a vision and designing flexibility into the space so it can evolve as our community does.