What started as a few students looking to start up a new club has blossomed into a strong group of bee lovers dedicated to educating their peers and maintaining a cluster of hives through the Geneseo Beekeeping Club. The club is open to any student, regardless of prior beekeeping experience, and is meant to be a positive space for students to learn about and interact with live honeybees.
The first component of Beekeeping Club is educating its members on a variety of bee-related topics. At the club’s weekly meetings on Monday nights, president junior Allison Menendez presents on different subjects such as the anatomy of bees, types of hives and how to prepare the hives for winter.
During the nicer weather, the club supplements these classroom lessons with visits to the beehives on campus. In order to participate in these hive visits, however, every member must first attend a safety lecture on the proper precautions to practice around the bees. Once that’s completed, they’re set to see the bees.
“We show everyone how to gear up, we show them the equipment to use, how to light the smokers, go up to the hives and replace the sugar water for the bees,” Menendez said of the hive visits. During the fall, spring and summer seasons, club members will visit the hives roughly every two weeks to ensure everything is running smoothly.
“We have to go often to make sure we supplement their diet if need be, check and make sure that the queen is laying, that they’re making honey. We just check that they’re healthy,” Menendez said.
The club’s leaders stress that students of all bee-experience levels are welcome. Even Menendez had never interacted with bees or knew much about them prior to joining the club. “I love it when we have new members … it’s fun to take people from any major and teach them about this awesome thing.”
In addition to the weekly meetings and hive visits, the club expanded their bee habitats into the arboretum with the help of assistant professor of biology Jennifer Apple. The newly constructed “bee barn” is home to leafcutter bees, native wasps and mason bees. Club members have also attended beekeeping conferences, fundraised with bee-themed Valentine’s Day cards and extracted honey from their hives.
Beekeeping Club Student Association representative sophomore Kaitlyn Latorre has most enjoyed being able to meet and interact with so many different people drawn together into this niche club.
“We like being able to make connections with people on campus and let people know that it’s okay to have weird interests,” Latorre said.
Overall, the club’s e-board tries to cultivate an environment where members support one another while branching out of their comfort zone to interact with such a unique species. Those who participate are passionate about raising awareness and inspiring others to love bees as much as they do.
“We’re working with animals that have the potential to sting you, so everyone really is supportive and encouraging,” Menendez said. “We just have a lot of fun and we love bees.”