Italian Honey Bees are Back at FOA

The bees are back at FOA! We have two hives of Italian honey bees that are located on our nature trail. Our first two attempts prior to COVID ended in the queens swarming the hive and with an infestation of European Hornets that devastated the hives. We are excited to say that our two new hives are thriving!

The Italian honey bees are very gentle honey bees. Both hives have accepted their queen and are settling in nicely. They are bustling with activity, and the queens have each laid about 30,000 to 40,000 eggs in the last three-four weeks. They have nearly run out of room to lay more. FOA parent and beekeeper extraordinaire, Dan Magner, purchased the hives and bees for FOA and is our bee advisor. The Upper Elementary students are working with him to help maintain the hives, learn about the bees, and teach other program levels about the amazing Italian honey bee!

On Friday, May 20, “Dan the Bee Man” met with the Upper Elementary students and explored the hives. This exploration included looking for the presence of the queen, assessing the space for the hive to grow, and discussing how to manage pests properly. Students learned about the life cycle of the Italian honey bee, different jobs in the hive, communication, and the overall changes in the hive throughout the year. Having two different hives also gives us the opportunity to see what effect the hive’s placement has on the hive’s success (i.e. sunlight, access to water, etc.). At this time, the hive down by the river is doing slightly better than the one near the trailhead, in that they have stored more honey, and the queen has laid more eggs. We look forward to following both of the hives’ successes and involving every program level in this exploration.