IKE MANY PEOPLE,
Lauren Calhoun had
heard about declining
B e e K e e p i n G C l u b
in the United States. But she
didn’t understand the extent of
the problem until she studied the
impact of pesticides and disease
on bees during her freshman year
at the University of North Carolina
“The big takeaway was how important hon-eybees
are to us as human beings,” she says.
“So much of the food we eat is pollinated
by honeybees. North Carolina depends on
honeybees. With no honeybees there are no
She wanted to do something. She joined the
nascent UNCW Beekeepers club and enrolled
in a beekeeping class. She became president her
sophomore year and served in that capacity for
two and a half years, giving up the office this
spring as graduation approached.
The UNCW Beekeepers exists to teach stu-dents,
faculty and staff about honeybees — from
pollination to honey production to health, eco-nomic
and environmental benefits. In partner-ship
with the New Hanover County Beekeeping
Association, the club provides a hands-on way to
ensure honeybees remain healthy and retain their
vital role in the ecosystem.
“We want to let students know how to help
the bees,” says Calhoun, an environmental
science major. “Our end goal is for people to
become beekeepers. The population of beekeep-ers
is aging. The goal is to get younger.”
The club operates four hives tucked away in
a low-trafficked corner of campus. During the
summer, when honey production is in peak sea-son,
BY SIMON GONZALEZ
Lauren Calhoun of the UNCW
Beekeepers presents honey
from the club’s first harvest to
Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli in
there could be as many as 60,000-80,000 bees in each hive.
“When you open a hive in summer the bees will just spew,”
Before the fall semester, club members and volunteers harvest the
“Harvesting honey usually takes place a week or two before
school starts,” Calhoun says. “If you are in the area you are invited.
WBM may 2020
This year we had a bottling
party on a Saturday. We
show them how to extract it,
filter it, bottle it.”
A typical yield is about
15 pounds. It’s bottled and
sold at the P.O.D. Market on
campus for $9 a jar. There’s a
buzz around campus when it goes
“We usually have about 150 jars, and it
sells out in about two weeks,” Calhoun says.
The club is a registered nonprofit and all pro-ceeds
go toward expenses and upkeep. A starter
colony of about 500 bees and queen costs about
$200. A hive runs from $500 to $900. Then
there’s the price of equipment and medicine.
But the benefits go beyond supporting your
local beekeeping club. Buying local honey
offers health benefits.
“Buy your honey local,” Calhoun says.
“Supermarket honey is not the same quality as
at a farmers’ market. If you have seasonal aller-gies,
local honey has been shown to reduce
them. It’s not super filtered, and has some of
the pollen in it.”
The Beekeepers hold monthly meetings
when school is in session.
“Most people come out because they are
curious to know more,” Calhoun says. “Bees are
such a unique insect, a cute insect. People tell
me they are afraid of bees or afraid of getting
stung, but the club isn’t all about putting your
hand in the hive. It’s about learning. Come out
and listen to us and talk about bees, absolutely
come join us.”
Getting hands-on with honeybees is not a
requirement to participate in the club, but it’s
“It’s kind of addicting when you go in the hive,” Calhoun says.
“It’s always different, always surprising what you are going to find.
There is a little fear, but we provide all the safety equipment.
We’re all instructed what to do. We carry EpiPens at all times.
Everyone is required to wear the veil. We try to prevent people
from getting stung, but it does happen. I’m very fortunate, I’ve
never been stung.”