Haverford is a busy campus. Students are almost always hunkering down in their respective “hives” to work on school assignments, in campus jobs, and with clubs and organizations. All the while, in the southwest corner of campus, buzzing winged insects toil away on their own assignments: maintaining the health of the Haverfarm and producing fresh honey. Since 2014, Haverford’s community-enriching farm has incorporated beekeeping into its efforts to model sustainable and justice-oriented agriculture. Last Saturday, the surrounding community benefited from the fruits of the bees’ labor.
The Friends School at Haverford, a preschool-through-eighth grade Quaker school across the street from campus, hosted Winged Wonders, a hands-on educational day for kids and families focused on the monarch butterfly and the honeybee. Eli St. Amour, who offers hive management services to 20 hives at 10 different locations, helps maintain the Haverfarm’s bee residents and used the honey extractor housed at the Friends School to show guests how honey extraction works and how bees help keep food systems thriving. Guests also got to taste the hive’s fresh honey.
“Honeybees pollinate one-third of everything we eat. Without them, it would be impossible to feed the world,” said St. Amour, who, when asked how one makes honey, replied, “I don’t make honey, bees do.”
The Haverfarm yielded over 1,800 pounds of produce last year that included delicacies as diverse as leafy greens, root veggies, herbs, melons, and beans. The plants on the farm have certainly appreciated the help from nearby bees eager to pollinate everything. And, as St. Amour explained at Winged Wonders, the taste of the honey that the bees produce depends on what plants they pollinate. Each batch from the Haverfarm is made special.
Consistent with the Haverfarm’s mission of fostering knowledge and love for ethical farming on and off campus, St. Amour also offers a beekeeping apprenticeship to Haverford students. Alongside Customs team service days and partnerships with student groups like the ETHOS food initiative and EHaus, the hives are one of many ways the Haverfarm encourages people to learn and benefit from local and ethical agriculture.
“Having bees on the Haverfarm not only helps the plants by providing pollination, but also gives students an opportunity to learn about beekeeping,” said St. Amour.
Last weekend, that opportunity was extended to a younger audience, who, with painted faces, got a peek into the buzzing, bustling world of a bee hive. The honey from the hives was on sale at the event, and because St. Amour offers hive management services to schools and private residences around the region, he has plenty of honey for sale from the Haverfarm and other nearby hives through his website.
Photos by Holden Blanco ’17.