Hall County students are provided with hands-on experience in construction, veterinary science, food production and beekeeping at Hall County School’s agri-business center.
In the beekeeping program students are taught how to prepare a bee smoker, make bee food, beehive maintenance, standard bee behavior and honey production.
Zach Free who is the Agribusiness Specialist for Hall County School and Hall County Young Farmer Program Advisor brought a group of North Hall High School students to the hives.
“The kids can learn what I do on a daily basis so that they can come out here, then they can take that to a competition and ID the equipment that we use, and know how to open up a hive and know how to start a smoker,” Free said. “So that whenever they decide to graduate, a lot of them can graduate certified beekeepers if they choose to.”
Free first demonstrated to students how to properly wear protective equipment. Next, he showed students how to start the smoker and how to use it.
“I like to throw a couple of puffs on the front of the hive so they know that we're coming in,” Free said “I typically tell kids, to stand to the backside because the front side is where they are coming in, and out. You don't want to be at the front that is typically where they will cover you up.”
Free explained how to determine the health of the hive and what to do when pests destroy the hive.
“What I will do is after today, I'll come out here and I'll take this house apart’” Free said “I'll clean all the worms out of it, all the webbing, see what I can salvage as far as frames, and then freeze them so that they are good till springtime.”
Free said that frames can be reused once they are rid of pests.
Next students learned how to prepare bee food with sugar and water.
“It's just one 50-pound bag [sugar] and I do a one-to-one ratio, so it's going to get six gallons of water,” Free said.
Once the temperature begins to drop and fewer plants are in bloom more sugar is added to the mixture to give the bees an extra boost Free said.
“I feel like by having this here we're inspiring new beekeepers, and getting more kids interested in what beekeeping is,” Free said.