The greenhouse behind Johnson-Doubleday has never been thought of as a hub of student life or activity, but that stereotype is about to change for the better. Any close friends of Elizabeth Eastman ’13 would be aware of a project she has been working on since spring of freshman year.
But many students will be flabbergasted to hear that—thanks to Eastman—Deerfield Academy is home to a hive of honeybees.
Eastman has kept beehives at her house since she was five years old, and when she decided to attend Deerfield, she brought them with her.
“It’s how I’ve grown up,” she said. The bees have “always been in my backyard, and I wanted to continue what I have been doing.”
The Eastmans bought a single hive, also known as a “super,” which Eastman visits at least once a week in the fall and spring, feeding the bees sugar water and covering the hive with a protective coating in the winter so they can survive.
This fall, Eastman was able to collect twelve jars of honey from the hive. Since it was not enough to give to the dining hall, she gave some away to members of the faculty and administration, including Head of School Margarita Curtis herself.
When asked about the honey, Ms. Curtis exclaimed, “I have been putting the honey in my Greek yogurt every morning, and enjoying it immensely.” Ms. Curtis even admitted to telling U.S. Poet Laureate and Academy Event speaker W. S. Merwin about the honey. Although when offered honey to take home to Hawaii, he said it would be “difficult to carry,” Mr. Merwin was very impressed.
Eastman is not the only one who cares for the bees. Over the years she has brought friends with her not only for assistance, but also with the idea of showing them the ropes. Jinane Achi ’13 commented, “The first time I helped Elizabeth, I was intimidated by her suit, and a little afraid of the bees, but they are actually not hostile at all. I love going along with her and seeing what it’s like to produce your own honey, and the best part is definitely getting to eat it because it’s delicious.”
Eastman expressed her wish to getting a bee-keeping group together as well as a few more hives, with the goal of having honey actually make an impact on the school. In a few years, students could potentially have homemade honey on their toast at breakfast, if some take advantage of this opportunity.
“It’s a fun experience, and someone is going to need to entertain those bees next year,” exclaimed Achi.
With just a little interest shown from the student body, morning meals could improve drastically.