The Buzz of Beekeeping

Debra Brewer’s journey as a beekeeper and the start of the beekeeping club

Grace Logan (she/her)

It is a hot summer afternoon. Science teacher Brewer Debra walks through the almost empty student parking lot covered head to toe in thick cotton canvas. She makes her way to the outdoor lab and is soon greeted by buzzing. Hundreds of bees fly to and from one of her hive boxes. They are healthy and happy. 

Brewer’s interest with bees began when she took her Interdisciplinary Studies Program (ISP) to a community garden. 

“We walked past and nobody even noticed that they were there,” Brewer said. “They were so docile. It was the greatest thing ever.”

Brewer toyed with the idea of beginning to beekeep, but remained unsure until a student came to her looking for an Eagle Scout project who was willing to build her a beehive.

“The Eagle Scout group put the hive in and then we ordered the bees,” Brewer said. “, the school shut down for COVID-19. So the bees came to my house via the mail.” 

Brewer took the bees up to Northwest and introduced them to their new home, which they took to immediately. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 brought to Brewer and her bees, the hive was thriving. 

“ showed me what a successful hive should look like, which mine was just doing awesome,” Brewer said. “Everything was great, great, great, great. the gate got left open in the outdoor lab, and somebody came in and vandalized .” 

As a result of the destruction of their hive, the bees absconded. Brewer was devastated that the bees left to find a new home, but hope was not lost. 

“I was talking to my IB , the kids that are now seniors, about how sad ,” Brewer said. ” took up a collection for another set of bees. Because I didn’t know they had collected money, I had already ordered a replacement. So, then we had two .”

Both beehives were thriving and healthy, until one was invaded by hive beetles. These beetles overran the hive and damaged the honeycomb. This forced another one of Brewer’s hives to abscond.  

The Beekeeping Club began two years ago after Brewer’s students donated the money to buy new bees. COVID-19 slowed the club’s activity for a period of time, but they have recently gained new members and just finished raising money to buy new bees. The club is also interested in purchasing more beekeeping suits, treatments for the hives and eventually leveling off the ground that the hives reside on. 

“I would love to eventually have multiple hives,” Brewer said. “Enough hives so that anybody who wanted to could maintain one . Almost like an adopt-a-hive kind of program.”

Brewer encourages any student interested in beekeeping to attend a meeting. 

“Every kid needs to have a place where they belong,” Brewer said. “A safe place, a fun place, an interesting place; somewhere where they feel like they can contribute. Beekeeping club, unlike a lot of clubs, can’t maintain the hives if we don’t have financial input. We need kids to have an interest. A lot of kids don’t even know we have bees on the property. So seeing the bees, learning about the bees, and then wanting to help the bees will then give us a financial flow that lets us keep the bees alive.”