Beekeeper explains sweet science at Hancock's Resolution

Seven-year-old Kyleigh Heavener and her brother, Eli, age five, watch an observation hive full of honey bees during the spring festival at Hancock's Resolution, in Pasadena, April 22.
Seven-year-old Kyleigh Heavener and her brother, Eli, age five, watch an observation hive full of honey bees during the spring festival at Hancock's Resolution, in Pasadena, April 22. (Atalie Payne / Correspondent)

Historic Hancock's Resolution had some of its tiniest inhabitants on display during its spring festival on Earth Day, April 22. The farm's honey bee hive was the center of attention as master gardener and beekeeper Mary Yee educated guests about the often misunderstood creatures.

Located next to a roped-off white honey bee hive buzzing with activity was an educational exhibit created by Yee.


She informed visitors about the unique characteristics of the complex honey bee. Displayed on her table was a piece of honeycomb, a dead queen bee and worker bee, pamphlets detailing the best plants for attracting honey bees, a poster of the honey bee life cycle, and an observation hive encased in glass swarming with live honey bees.

The observation hive allows people to safely "get up close and personal" with the honey bees without opening the hive, Yee said.


Pasadena residents Kyleigh Heavener, age 7, and her brother Eli, age 5, said they enjoyed watching the scurrying honey bees through the glass. The children listened attentively to Yee as she spoke about the tiny insects. Later, Kyleigh happily tried on gloves from Yee's bee suit.

Yee told Kyleigh and Eli about the three kinds of bees inside the hive: workers, drones and the queen.

Workers have many duties including caring for the queen, feeding the brood or eggs, larvae and pupae, cleaning and polishing cells, building beeswax combs, and guarding the hive entrance.

The drone bee, or male bee, primarily functions to fertilize the queen so she can continuously lay eggs.

The queen's main function is reproduction. During optimal conditions , she can produce up to 1,500 eggs every day, Yee said.

Although worker bees live only a few weeks, a queen bee can live up to seven years. During that time, she continuously lays egg to populate the hive.

Yee provided information about planting a pollinator garden to help supply food, shelter and water for adult pollinating insects like the honey bee. Plants such as phlox, Eastern columbine, foxglove beardtongue, bee balm, and goldenrod are beneficial for honey bees and other pollinators.

"As master gardeners, we give people recommendations for different plants to help native pollinators...and honey bees," Yee said.

Pollinators, like bumble bees and honey bees, need flowers all year round.

Yee became acquainted with Hancock's Resolution and beekeeping through the Anne Arundel County Master Gardener University of Maryland Extension Program, or UAE. In 2012, she became a master gardener through the program and a year later started beekeeping at her home in Crownsville.

Hancock's Resolution started its honey bee hives a few years ago. Yee, and another UME master gardener, help maintain the roughly 25,000 European honey bees living there. Once a month, Yee volunteers at Hancock's Resolution to educate people about honey bees.

To maintain a healthy colony, Yee has had to provide supplemental feeding over the winter; a single hive may need about 60 pounds of honey to sustain themselves. She has also treated them for a parasitic mite called Varroa destructor, which can kill a hive.


"We worry about them," she said, "they're like our pets...but they're not."

While combing through historical records about Hancock's Resolution, volunteers discovered the farm maintained two bee hives. Although the farm had two hives last year, one of them perished over the winter.

"We historically haven't had a lot of luck with these hives here," Yee said. The reason behind the bee deaths is unknown.

However, Yee says there are three main factors behind most colony failures — parasites, pesticides and pathogens.

"There's an issue with bee health today," she said.

UME is a statewide program established to share research-based knowledge with the public by offering horticultural and pest management expertise to help protect Maryland's natural resources.

Interested individuals must enroll and complete a basic training course, pass a final exam, and fulfill a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education yearly.

Yee says she enrolled in UME because she likes plants. She became interested in honey bees because they are vital to gardening.

"Being a beekeeper is so much fun," she said, "you can be a beekeeper for 50 years and still learn something."

For gardening tips, visit UME's website: extension.umd.edu. Visit aabees.org for beekeeping information.

Taste of Pasadena

Pasadena Business Association's eighth Taste of Pasadena will be held 6-9 p.m. May 1 at Kurtz's Beach, 2070 Kurtz Ave. Cost is $25 per person for Pasadena Business Association members or $30 for non-members.

Several Pasadena restaurants will serve food including Bella Napoli, The Greene Turtle and Primo Pasta Kitchen.

Tickets are available online at www.tasteofpasadena.com. They are also available at BB&T Bank, 3030 Mountain Road, and Arundel Federal Savings Bank in Lake Shore.

Pit beef dinner

Jenkins Memorial Church, 133 Riviera Dr., is hosting a pit beef dinner 10 a.m.-2 p.m., or until sold out, May 6. Sandwiches are $7 each. Platters are $10, they include a sandwich and choice of two sides, French fries, cole slaw or baked beans, and drink. For $1 more get the triple play, sandwich, three sides and drink.

For details, call 410-437-2846.

Golf tournament

Jenkins Memorial Church will hold its 25th annual golf tournament at 8:30 a.m. May 18 at the Bay Hills Golf Club, 545 Bay Hills Dr. Cost is $85 and includes greens fees, cart rental, continental breakfast, hot dog at turn and a buffet lunch.

Contests include hole-in-one, closest to the pin, longest drive and putting. There's a $75,000 cash prize for a hole-in-one. Other prizes include cash, $500 gift certificate andCallaway Irons.

To register by May 4, contact Matt Giordano (410-693-4790), Dennis Quintero (410-789-2752) or Milt Zahn (410-437-2846).

Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company seeks recruits

Share your Pasadena news with Atalie Day Brown at adbrownmdgazette@gmail.com

Recommended on Baltimore Sun