In early May, Eagle Scout candidate Sasha Thilmany of Darien’s Troop 35 embarked on another phase of his Eagle project involving honey bees. With the help of Backyard Beekeepers Association of Connecticut member Peet Foster, Sasha and fellow Scout Sam Giorgio successfully colonized a beehive in the east field at the Darien Land Trust’s Mather Meadows.
According to The Land Trust Stewardship committee member Ron D’Andrea, this colony of healthy bees “will support the pollination needed to insure the success of the reintroduction of native plants and flowers returning key tracts of land back to their natural state.”
The call from the Darien Post office came May 8 in the form of a three-pound package of more than 10,000 Italian Honey bees from Pennsylvania, much to the dismay of anxious postal employees. That evening, although bees are very docile at this stage, the novice apiarists suited-up ahead of introducing the Queen (Latifah) and her colony to their new home, a tradional Langsroth bee box donated by Dave Skelton of the Backyard Beekeepers.
The hive stands in an area of the meadow where the bees receive early morning sun, late afternoon shade and are protected from northerly winds by an old stone wall. These bees have a multimillion-dollar view, complete with acres of wild flowers and a New England style red barn.
The boys meet with their mentor Peet regularly to check the progress of the colony. In the past weeks, comb has been built, eggs laid, nectar and pollen gathered and honey stored and capped. Now at five weeks, comb covers nearly every frame. Young bees are actively emerging from cells, increasing the population. The colony is ready to expand to a second box to be placed on top. These are all signs of a healthy community.
One of Sasha’s goals is to encourage youth in our community to take an interest in their environment and in beekeeping specifically. According to Dave Blocher, master beekeeper and another of Sasha’s BYBK mentors, “The average age of a hobbyist beekeeper is 60.”
Sasha hopes to inspire a new generation of beekeeping enthusiasts by allowing them access to this working hive while providing them with the protective gear and supplies to work along side him and his mentor. This is a goal shared by Backyard Beekeepers. Members donated supplies to outfit three potential beekeepers.
The hope is next spring a few young people will apply this knowledge and confidence to their own backyard colony.
Darien already has a number of hobbiest beekeepers. Some of them in neighborhoods no one would even suspect. That honeybee in your garden probably belongs to a neighbor, albeit a neighbor up to