Mamaroneck High School Beekeeping

Sean Adams/WCBS 880

Stories From Main Street: Beekeeping Creates A Buzz At Mamaroneck High School

July 16, 2018 - 5:00 am

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (WCBS 880) -- Mamaroneck High School in Westchester County is offering a course that you can’t experience with a textbook.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported in this week’s edition of “Stories from Main Street,” the beekeeping class at the school requires a mesh bonnet and a protective suit. Science chair Cathy O’Reilly got the idea after a trip to the Amazon.

“Drove up to Stamford, Connecticut and came back with 50,000 bees in my back seat,” she said.

Those bees are now busy at work in three hives on campus.

“They’re really important because they pollinate most of the crops that we eat,” said sophomore Jacqueline Chiu. “We are very reliant on them.”

The students are learning about colony collapse, and bee genetics too.

“Epigenetics basically means that every female bee has identical DNA, but based upon the way they’re fed, they choose to use or not use certain genes,” O’Reilly said.

Mamaroneck High School Beekeeping
Sean Adams/WCBS 880

Senior James Anderson explains.

“The worker bees will feed a substance called royal jelly to multiple of the eggs, and then the first one to hatch will go around and kill the other eggs that have been fed royal jelly, and then that bee will go on to become the queen,” he said.

When Adams visited, O’Reilly was on the spy for something called a waggle dance. It’s how the bees direct one another to a good food source.

“They walk in a straight line, and then they turn around to show the direction of the sun. How far they walk is distance, where they turn is the angle from the sun, and how much they shake their booty is actually how good the food is,” she said.

Mamaroneck High School Beekeeping
Sean Adams/WCBS 880

As the bees swarmed over everyone’s heads, Chiu admitted that she was intimidated at first.

“I was a little scared,” she said. “I’ve never been stung by a bee, so I was a little scared that I would be. But after the first time out here, it’s really just now fun and exciting.”

After a year, the class will harvest the honey for sale and for use in the culinary arts class.