Why Honeybees? 

Our Green Initiative highlights global conservation issues and in the United States, honeybees are high on that list. About one third of our diet is derived from plants pollinated by insects. Honeybees pollinate 90 different types of crops. Their survival is threatened by parasites (like the Varroa mite,) pesticides, loss of habitat, and grazing practices. Bee hives are dying and disappearing rapidly in what is called "Colony Collapse Disorder." AGCS decided to aid in honeybee conservation efforts; we need to do something now so that there will be enough honeybees to meet the pollination demands for future crops in Chester County.

In 2013, AGCS received a grant from Project Learning Tree to launch a beekeeping program on campus. In 2014, a plan was put in place and our dreams were becoming a reality. Through the grant we were able to secure bee boxes, frames and other hive components that were moved to an on-campus “apiary.”

On October 8, 2014, we successfully extracted our first batch of golden honey!  It was an exciting time for everyone at AGCS; many teachers & staff stopped in to check out the process. It was a fascinating experience - one that will leave a lasting impression on our community.

On this website, we offer a brief summary of the extraction process. Our staff maintains an amazing, detailed blog of our apiary activities.
Click here: 
AGCS Honeybee Suite to share in the full experience! 

Check out a recent article published by the Office of Science and Technology on Promoting Pollinator Health.

Honey Extraction Process

Step One: Remove the Frames from the Hives
A small honeybee excluder is inserted into the top cover. 
This allows the honeybees to move down into the lower boxes,
but not come back up, making it easier to remove the frames
with less bees on them. 

In our first harvest, we removed 17 frames! We extracted the honey from 16 of the frames, leaving the rest to sustain the bees though winter.

Step Two: Uncap the Honey
"Caps" are the white coverings that seal the honey into the combs. In order to harvest the honey, they have to be carefully removed from both sides of each frame. A tool resembling a comb is used to slide under the caps and gently pry them off.

After a few passes with the tool, the caps are scraped off the tool and placed into a container. These caps contain some of the purest wax and are used to create lip balms, etc.

Step Three:  Extract the Honey
Here, Mrs. Akintoye is placing two uncapped frames into an extractor. While Mrs. Tyree holds the centrifuge steady, Mrs. Logullo cranks the handle to spin the frames for a few minutes. The honey flies out of the comb and onto the sides of the extractor, where it drips down the sides and pools at the bottom. The frames are then flipped and placed back into the extractor facing the opposite way to ensure that the honey from both sides of the frame is released. After a another good spinning, the frames are flipped and spun one last time to ensure that all honey has been removed.

The honey is released through a valve at the bottom of the extractor into a food-grade container that is lined with a mesh strainer. This will filter out not only the wax that may have fallen from the comb, but also any bug parts that may have naturally ended up in the honey.

Step Four:  Bottle the Honey
The strained honey is poured back into a food-grade container. The valve at the bottom of the bucket is opened and a glass honey jar is held underneath to catch the golden honey. When one bottle is filled, another bottle is quickly slid into the stream to be filled. Each bottle is carefully hand-filled and capped.

After the jars are filled, they are carefully wiped clean with a dry cloth to prevent any moisture from getting into the jars, which would cause the honey to ferment.

Once the honey settles in the jars, we add AGCS Honey labels to each bottle. All that's left is to enjoy this amazing, sweet treat that was created by our very own AGCS honeybees!

Amazing Honeybee Trivia

Honeybees fly at about 15 miles per hour.

Bees fly 55,000 miles to bring us one pound of honey.

During its life (about 40 days,) a honeybee will gather about 1/12 teaspoon of honey.

Bees must go to two million flowers to gather one pound of honey.

Bees can see the same colors we see, except red. They also see ultraviolet.

Bees stroke their wings 11,400 times per minute.

It takes approximately 3,500 bees to weigh one pound.

Honeybees that collect nectar from flowers are called foragers and visit 50-100 flowers in one flight.

Bees gather 10 pounds of nectar to make one pound of honey.

A foraging honeybee can carry 80% of their weight in pollen or nectar.

Honeybees make up 80% of all pollinators.

Honeybees use several dances in the hive to communicate the location of nectar and water to other bees. One well known dance is called the waggle dance.

Honeybee pollination has an agricultural value of 15 billion dollars in the United States.

The queen lays between 1,000-3,000 eggs per day.

There is only one queen per colony. If there are two, they will fight and only one will survive.

A queen mates with nearly 20 drones and only mates once in her lifetime.

The drone (male honeybee) does not have a stinger.

Propolis is made from sticky plant and tree resin and is used by the bees as a glue and and anti-bacterial substance in the hive.

A honeybee lives approximately 40 days in the summer and 4-9 months in the winter.