Ever want to watch how bees do their jobs, but nervous about being that close to them? No worries! Now you can watch the bees from the safety of a computer screen on the new Lehigh Bee Cam!
But wait! Lehigh has bees?
In 2014 Lehigh students formed a beekeeping club to raise awareness about the important role honeybees play in the environment and to promote sustainability. With funding from a GreenFund grant and support from Library and Technology Services (LTS), the club brought its first bees to campus. The hives serve as a living laboratory for students, faculty, and staff to learn more about bees and beekeeping.
The club installed three new hives this month in a low foot traffic area near Iacocca Hall on Mountaintop campus. "The colonies are bought as "packages," which are vented boxes with about three pounds of honeybees -- about 10,000 in all -- including a queen in each package,” said Andy Januszak, beekeeping club advisor and LTS Computing Consultant. “A queen bee is placed in each hive and then the boxes are shaken over the hives, with each package eventually taking up residence within the hive.”
Januszak said this makes it one of the most exciting times in beekeeping, since the bees are in their most docile state with nothing to protect and are the least aggressive. “The other exciting time in beekeeping is, of course, when we harvest honey,” he said.
He explained that the queen's job is to sustain the population of the hive by constantly laying eggs -- queens can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day. The worker bees (female) have various jobs throughout their lives and the jobs change as they age. When they emerge from their metamorphosis from larva to adult bee, they become nurse bees, taking care of the other eggs, pupa and larva. Towards the end of their life cycles they leave the hive to forage for pollen and nectar. About 600 bees need to visit about 2 million flowers to make a little over one pound of honey.
Grab a bag of popcorn and get watching!
The new live feed for the beehives was made possible thanks to another GreenFund grant, as well as the collaborative efforts of the LTS Network Engineering and Systems Engineering teams. The streaming feed allows the club to remotely monitor hives for swarms, bears, weather, and other activity, and also helps promote awareness of bees and their impact on the environment.
To see what’s going on at the hives, visit the live stream.
Photo courtesy Delaney McCaffrey.