“You can see they’re healthy, they’re laying eggs. This is how it should be, the honey around here,” said the Prairie Manager for with College of DuPage, Remic Ensweiler, as he displays a honeycomb.
A healthy hive that is now thriving in the east prairie of the College of DuPage. This is one of two new hives the college recently acquired through different grants, meant to help increase the local honeybee population, which has seen a worldwide decline in recent years.
“It’s part of our mission here at the College of DuPage to help promote the natural beauty of the area and keep an area preserved where our students can study ecological processes and see the plants and the animals that belong here,” said Professor of Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, David Taylor, who helped write the grants to get the hives. “And so the bees help a great deal by collecting pollen from these flowers that they turn into honey. The bees aren’t really per se interested in helping the flowers, but they do indirectly because they spread the pollen around and help them all reproduce much more efficiently than they would otherwise.”
COD’s prairie manager, Remic Ensweiler, has taken up the mantle of beekeeper for the college, learning as much as he can from local experts and other beekeepers.
“The first time I did it I was scared out of my mind. Like any novice ‘oh my god, they’re bees, they’re going to sting me, right?’ But you put on the veil, you put on the gloves, you tuck in your things, you go there and they’re buzzing all around you, and they’re not affecting you, so you kind of feel like superman, you know you kind of feel invincible,” added Ensweiler.
Both hive boxes were installed this summer, each with separate queens and thousands of workers building their new homes.
“They came with the basic honeycomb infrastructure in it, so they have this waxy material that’s the shape of the honey comb so that the bees, once they’re introduced to it, they make it their home pretty quickly, and they start making their eggs and food and honey in those,” said Ensweiler.
As soon as the bees fill one layer of the boxes, Remic will add additional layers so the hives can continue to grow.
Ensweiler explains, “each with ten wooden structures of the honeycomb, so we got basically 20 of those, where the eggs are put and the honeys made and the foods made and all that.”
Even though these hives are new, they have been steadily growing – a promising sign for the future.
“This first year, with these two hives, we’re in the learning process so we’re just hoping everyone stays alive through the season and that we save them enough honey so that they do okay in the winter, and then hopefully next spring, we don’t have to reset the project by getting new bees,” added Taylor.
A conservation effort worth buzzing about.
Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.