With the holiday season in full swing, Barnard’s beekeepers kept bee-sy in an annual tradition of their own — Honey Extraction Day (12/14).
Every December, the Biology Department extends the results of a research initiative — a sweet treat made by the honey bees of the Snow Lab — to community members across the College. Led by Jonathan Snow, assistant professor of biological sciences, the lab houses six to eight colonies, each with about 60,000 individuals, and investigates the challenges that honey bee colonies and beekeepers face. “Before the holidays, we take the excess honey that Barnard’s bees have made during the year,” said Snow. “It’s important to leave enough honey for the bees to eat all winter so they can survive.”
The annual honey extraction, which began in 2012, is made possible by student volunteers who participate in the six-step process. The final product — in its light, sweet, golden goodness — contains floral notes from wildflower varieties that are local to the campus. Hundreds of thousands of Barnard’s honey bees, also known as the western honey bee (Apis mellifera), spend the year collecting nectar from neighborhood plant life within a one-mile radius of the College.
“Of the myriad bee species, the vast majority do not make honey or live in big colonies. However, all bee species are important pollinators that need to be protected," said Snow. "Honey Extraction Day at Barnard can get people excited about honey bees — but also get them to think about all the cool bee species out there worthy of our attention.”
Once the honey is filtered after extraction, it is bottled in bear-shaped jars and gifted to friends of the bees at the College. Watch the video above to learn more about Barnard’s sweetest holiday tradition.