Bee Club provides unique student experiences

Sophomore Georgia Rice scrapes off wax from a honeycomb at apiculture club.

Keira Ely

Sophomore Georgia Rice scrapes off wax from a honeycomb at apiculture club.

The second year of the Bee Club at Grady has grown in popularity. Started last year by former student Robert Brunet, the club now has more than 30 members.

“It’s a fun club because you do stuff with the bees, but then we do other things like planting flowers in the flowerbeds,” science teacher and club sponsor Ben Sellers said.

The c has three beehives, two of which were donated by Sellers.

“Two hives were gifted to me, and I asked [Principal Dr. Betsy Bockman] if I could keep them up here at school because I had two at my house already and didn’t really need them,” Sellers said.

Bee club got its third hive at the end of last year after applying for a scholarship. The new addition pushed the club’s bee population to 120,000.

“The third one we wrote a scholarship for last year to the metro Atlanta beekeeping association, and they gifted us the hive bodies, and then they gave us some bees, too,” Sellers said.

All three hives are located on the roof outside of Sellers’ classroom on the C400 hall and can be seen from his window.

“This is kind of the perfect spot for them because they can’t really be accessed from the floor,” Sellers said.

Activities in Bee Club can vary depending on the time of year, but they usually revolve around the bees.

“Our activities depend on the season,” said senior Avery Gray. “Fall is honey-harvesting season, winter is where we plan club activities and make lip balm to sell, and spring is when we work on a roof garden for the bees.”

The beginning of the school year is prime honey-harvesting time, so Bee Club members get to work early on.

“We harvest the honey in the fall, making sure to leave enough for the hives to survive the winter because that’s why bees make honey,” Gray said. “It’s taken us four meetings to harvest all the honey, so that’s between five to eight hours.”

Bee Club isn’t all about bees, though. Students who participate can also work with honey, making lip balm and planting flowers.

“It’s not just bees. It is centered around bees, but there are lots of different side projects, ” Sellers said.

Getting a third hive has increased honey production for the year, bringing in several more gallons than before.

“We didn’t get much honey last year, but this year we got about 11 gallons,” Sellers said.

The honey-harvesting process is long and time-consuming, so everyone contributes after school during meetings.

“Harvesting honey is complex, but basically you just have to cut off the very outside of the wax and then you put it in a big thing called an extractor, which is basically just a giant centrifuge which spins around really fast,” Sellers said. “Then, it slings honey on the sides, and the honey just runs down to the bottom. After that, we put it through the filters to catch anything in it and put it in jars.”

When senior Avery Gray found out about Bee Club last year, she played a big part in helping the club take off.

“My stepbrother was in the same astronomy class as our founder Robert (Brunet), so he told me about it, and I helped it get on its feet,” Gray said.

Sellers’s interest in bees makes him a perfect fit to head the club.

“I’ve been a beekeeper for 10 years; I’ve been doing it forever, and since we have them here, I think we might as well teach people about bees and get some honey and lip balm out of them,” Sellers said.

The club has something for everyone, and the bees help Gray find calmness and peace after a long day of school.

“I love the opportunity to nurture and tend something natural like the bees and the garden,” Gray said. “It instills a certain type of peace that’s hard to find nowadays.”