Al Kennedy High School welcomes a queen bee to student-built hives

April 28 - In a recent post by Jennifer Powell on the Al Kennedy High School Facebook page, she notes that the Camas Field Bee Farm and Bryce Creek ‘Air Bee n Bee’ at AKHS are now occupied.

Photos of the student-built hives with top bars in place, insulation puffs made from cedar pillowcases, feeders on eco-floors, healthy-looking dung, and an accompanying drone have been put online. The drone is now currently residing at Camas Field with the Italian bees.

When the hives arrived, fanning is captured on video as they welcome their sister’s home. By moving air through the hive, fanning serves as a homing signal to guide foraging bees back to their hives as well as a means of controlling the temperature there.

Orientation flights and stragglers marching right in were observed.  In a wild colony, bees do not naturally recognize the location of the hive or the tree in which they are nesting. Before going on foraging excursions to gather nectar or pollen, they must learn this.  The duration of an orientation flight might range from 30 to 60 minutes.

In transport, the queen got loose in the Bryce Creek but luckily dropped into the hive. The Camas queen is now in her cage and the bees are seen happily munching through her candy cap to set her free.

When bees are sent via mail or other means of transportation, queen bee candy serves as their main source of nutrition. The candy is also a crucial component of the introduction of the queen. Throughout the week, the school will assess their food supplies and the progress of comb drawing. 

A big thank you to Thad Starr at Starrfarms Queens in Pleasant Hill was shared by Powell for selling AKHS these bees and his help. And local beekeeper, Fonta Molyneaux of Wild Everlasting was also thanked for teaching staff and students and giving them confidence they need to get the project going.