Welcome to the Apiary.

The Champlain Apiary was established in the Spring of 2013 to provide experiential learning opportunities for our students and community members and to support the college's commitment to sustainability. This living laboratory gives us a window into the fascinating lives of a uniquely social organism that teaches us about the intricacies of group decision-making, communication, and community. At a time when feral and managed bee populations are in decline, our bees benefit Champlain's campus and the surrounding landscape through the pollination services they provide. The honey produced by our bees is bottled and marketed by our students, and all proceeds benefit the educational mission and material support of the apiary. Thank you to the many faculty, staff, students, and community members who have made this endeavor possible.
Honey Bee Basics
Our campus keeps the species Apis mellifera, the Western honey bee, which live and work together in our hives. Existing perennially, or throughout the winter, this system of semi-dormancy is unique to this bee species. The bees form a cluster around the queen in the center of the hive and maintain a temperature of 85°F by consuming honey and vibrating their wing muscles. There is a constant exchange of position by the bees from outside to inside and back again to keep them warm. Almost the entire workforce of the hive is female (the worker bees); the male drones are limited to several hundred and do no work in their own colony. Their only job is to leave the colony and mate with virgin queens from other colonies.
Champlain honey is raw/unfiltered and is not heated/pasteurized in any way. As such, it may crystallize due to the bits of pollen, wax, and propolis that have been left in it, or as a result of the floral source. The crystallization process does not compromise the flavor - it only changes the texture. If you like a little "chew" to your honey, enjoy it as is. If you don't, just bathe the jar in hot water (less than 130°F) like the label says to re-dissolve the crystals. Just don't put it in the microwave - it zaps all the good enzymes.

Champlain honey is bottled and labeled by students and is available for purchase in a variety of sizes at The Lodge in IDX while supplies last. All proceeds go back to the bees.
Bees in Decline
Humans and honey bees have a rich history, and the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) has become an important player in food production. With pollination services valued at $25 billion in North America alone, honey bees are one of the most important determinants of overall yield for many crops of tree nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. They also produce other valuable products, including honey, beeswax, pollen, royal jelly, and propolis and are responsible for the pollination and propagation of many native plants in Vermont, thereby contributing to the ecological diversity and attractiveness of the landscape.

Considering the economic and ecological importance of the honey bee, the decline of this organism is unfortunate and alarming. Honey bees have recently fallen victim to a syndrome known as colony-collapse disorder (CCD), which is thought to be caused by the synergistic effects of pesticides, pathogens, habitat-loss, and an overall loss of genetic diversity. In a 2010 synthesis report, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) recognized a "significant and constant decline in domestic honey bee colony numbers" in North America and Europe, and CCD has brought global awareness to the current plight of both domestic and wild bee populations. This is an opportune time to establish an apiary at Champlain, however small in scale, to educate the community and contribute to the preservation of this invaluable and fascinating organism.
Visiting the Apiary
The apiary is open for organized tours at various times from May through September. If you would like to bring your class to the apiary, or involve the apiary in your course or program curriculum, contact Kristin Wolf at kwolf@champlain.edu.
Support and Sponsors
Thank you to the Vermont Community Foundation and the private donations that made the establishment of the apiary possible. And a special thanks to the Senior Class of 2013, whose generous sponsorship ensures that the apiary will be enjoyed by many Champlain students in the future. It is the generosity of these students, parents, and organization that have made this living laboratory possible.

Interested in supporting the apiary? Contact Kristin Wolf at kwolf@champlain.edu. Thank you!

© Champlain Apiary 2014. All rights reserved.
Website crafted with love by Champlain student Cody Mannigan.