On November 15, 2019, East Georgia State College (EGSC) hosted its first ever Honey Extraction Party! Members of EGSC’s recently-organized Beekeeping Club met, along with other students, faculty, staff, and members from the community, to learn more about honey, how it is made by honey bees and collected by beekeepers. Extraction equipment was brought to the campus by Dr. Paul Cerpovicz (faculty member and hobbyist beekeeper) and set up in the lobby outside the college auditorium. Twelve frames of honey from the campus apiary were extracted, along with 21 frames from Cerpovicz’s own beehives.
In all, about 30 people were on hand to learn more about honey, honey bees, and honey extraction. Several observers jumped in to uncap the honeycombs, use their muscles to spin the frames in the extractor, and filter the honey. To be sure the college had honey to call its own, the frames from the campus apiary were extracted first, then filtered and collected separately from the off-campus honey. The importance of a low moisture content (< 18%) to prevent spoilage was explained, and the use of a refractometer was demonstrated to show that the percent moisture in the collected honey was good to go at about 17.2%.
Nearly 22 pounds of campus honey were collected, along with about 47 pounds of off-campus honey. The smell of honey was everywhere, and as soon as the campus honey was filtered people were diving in to sample it – with the overwhelming consensus being that it tasted WONDERFUL! This was the culmination of four years of hard work by the bees of Bobcat Apiary and the committee that supports them. The hives have gone through hive collapse, lack of sufficient forage and swarms, and finally were able to produce surplus honey to be extracted—an exciting accomplishment for this campus initiative.
For most of those present, this was the first time they had participated in, much less witnessed, a honey extraction and everyone seemed to show a lot of interest in the process, ask a lot of questions, and have a good time. In addition to the extraction activity, a teaching hive and beekeeping equipment were on display, along with UGA’s Georgia Pollinator Protection booklets, pamphlets and honey recipe brochures from the National Honey Board, and information sheets about honey. To make the day even better, everyone had the opportunity to fill their own bottle of honey to take home and enjoy!
East Georgia State College now maintains two apiaries – one on its main campus in Swainsboro, Ga., and a second apiary at an off-campus site in the town of Swainsboro. The second apiary was set up this past year thanks in large part to a Buzz Fund Grant received from the Georgia Beekeepers Association. The major goals of these apiaries is to increase awareness about honey bees and other pollinators, as well as their importance to the environment and how to protect both them and their habitats.
Since its designation as a Bee Campus USA institution in 2016, East Georgia State College has greatly increased its efforts to achieve these goals and to further promote honey bee and pollinator protection education to its students, staff, faculty, and community. The Honey Extraction Party was a fun activity to help reach these goals, and we hope to make it an annual event from this point forward!