Our "Buffalo Bees" Have Arrived!

THE BEES ARE HERE! The buzz around Thunder Valley CDC this week has been added to with the arrival of our "Buffalo Bees" from The Honeybee Conservancy.  The Thunder Valley CDC's Food Sovereignty Initiative received a Sponsor-A-Hive Grant from the The Honey Bee Conservancy. Every year the Bee Conservancy chooses 10 schools, community gardens, and green spaces to receive and maintain a beehive. We were chosen to take in these busy, buzzing new relatives to help contribute and provide to our local food system.

The goals of the Sponsor-A-Hive program are to:

  • Bolster bee populations
  • Advance education across multiple academic areas
  • Support local food initiatives
  • Inspire communities to act as stewards for bees and bee’s natural environment
  • Improve quality of life for people in the community       

We received our packaged bees on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 from an apiary out of California. Once arrived we waited for the bees to calm down from their shipping journey and waited to the cool of the evening to place them in their new home. We readied ourselves to handle the bees with our bee suits and tools and took the necessary steps to transfer them into the hive. We popped open the package and immediately there were about 14,000 honey bees flying out into their new environment. We put the shipping package in the hive so the remaining bees could make it out. The next step was to release the queen. The queen was in a smaller container inside the package, with one opening on the queen’s container filled with wax her worker bees throughout the next 24 hours would then eat through the wax releasing the queen into the hive. Our final step, was to fill and set up the first box (brooder) so that once the queen was out she could start laying eggs inside the build out combs. We filled a mason jar with honey water and set up right in front of the hive for their source of food. The bees would use this feeder until they can forage on their own in coming days.

This marked the beginning of an awesome new journey and was a very humbling experience that we got to take part in! The initiative of taking in honey bees was not only a educational piece for our demonstration farm but will help us create Food Sovereignty and a viable source of food on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota Reservation.

 -Nick Hernandez
Director of Food Sovereignty Initiative

-Richard Tall
Intern of Food Sovereignty Intitiative