Spring beekeeping course creates a buzz about pollinators

By Erin Jesionowski

Elm Staff Writer

On Friday, Nov. 8, a campus-wide email was sent on behalf of Eastern Shore Food Lab Assistant Director Shane Brill, announcing a beekeeping course for the spring semester. 

The course is composed of seven classes, meeting bi-weekly on Thursdays in the Eastern Shore Food Lab. 

The class is “no credits, just for fun,” Brill said. 

This is the fourth year a beekeeping course has been offered at Washington College. In past years, the class was taught by Mike Embrey, a local entomologist, who sadly passed away this year. Brill stepped into Embrey’s role. 

The program is going to “take a different format this year,” Brill said, explaining that it will include a lot of videos, photos about the content, and overall conservation of pollinators. 

Brill found a niche for beekeeping at the master gardeners training program, an intensive geared toward those who are avid about the horticultural field, a few years back.  Out of this came the revelation to have a beekeeping course at WC. 

Brill wants to show the students “why it’s important to be an advocate for bees and insect allies of the world,” he said. 

Since the class is located in the food lab, Brill is trying to incorporate food into the course. Honey harvesting season has passed, but he has ideas about making mead, candles, or fondant, which is a sugary food meant for bees.

What they end up making will be “based on the interests of students in the class,” Brill said.

He is looking to accept about a dozen students with “preference given to those invested,” he said.  

Throughout this course, Brill aspires to “dispel the myths of bees,” referring to their negative connotation as an enemy rather than an ally. He continued, calling them “gentle sweet things.” 

Students will also learn to “co-habit with animals and insects in a beneficial way,” he said.  

Brill’s main goal for students at the end of the beekeeping course is to “get a clearer sense of their relationship with inhabitants on this beautiful planet,” he said.

According to Brill, the beekeeping community in Chestertown is a “vibrant” one. He commended the “great support network” made up of the Campus Garden and River and Field Outpost. Brill noted he wanted “student beekeepers on the front line,” working with fellow beekeepers in the Chestertown community. 

For anyone wary or hesitant to take the class, Brill had some advice: “it’s a great opportunity to view the world up close and understand yourself a bit differently.” 

“It is a gateway to revelation about how we fit into the world,” he said.

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