For three years, the Trevecca Urban Farm has offered Bee Camp to middle schoolers in the Nashville area. Farm officials say the camp teaches students the importance of beekeeping and how to farm without using pesticides.
“We have farm camp each year, and we always talk about the different animals we have on the farm,” said Karen Shaw, coordinator for Trevecca Urban Farm. “Out of that stemmed an interest from middle schoolers wanting to learn more about bees.”
Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator and director of Trevecca Urban Farm, echoed Shaw, but said the camp and the information students learn during the week-long event are also important for the future of bees. This year’s camp lasted from July 15-19.
“That interest, along with understanding bees are endangered and that colonies are collapsing, we want to inspire [campers] to become beekeepers and replace some of the beekeepers that are aging out of the profession.”
Adkins said that Trevecca’s Bee Camp is staffed by high school interns who receive “intensive training” during the first week of June. The interns help run the farm during the summer, including assisting at all the camps.
The annual camp also features guest speakers who are experts in the field. This year, Gene Armstrong, former president of the Nashville Area Beekeepers Association, spoke to students, providing an introduction to beekeeping.
According to Shaw, many students return to Bee Camp year after year. At least three returning students participated in this year’s camp.
“It’s great that they are continuing to be interested and enjoy it so much that they want to come again,” Shaw said.
Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from Bee Camp. As a beekeeper herself, Shaw says she gleans a wealth of information from the guest speakers.
“When the speakers come, there’s such a wealth of knowledge that I think we as adults enjoy because we learn as well,” Shaw said. “[As a beekeeper, I’m] learning better how we can take care of our bees.”
For Adkins, guiding students to learn more about bees is sweet enough on its own merits—even without the honey. One of his favorite experiences during the week is helping students to locate the queen as well as harvesting honey with the campers on the last day.
That honey helps to support the work of the Trevecca Urban Farm in the community.
“Not only do we have Bee Camp,” Adkins said, “but we also have six hives down here that we oversee year-round.”
“[At Bee Camp] we harvested gallons and gallons of honey,” Shaw added. “They are sold during the school year, but they are also available at the farmer’s market at Caza Azafran.”
Honey harvested from Trevecca’s bee hives is also sold from 11-1p.m. in the Jernigan Student Center each Thursday during the academic year.
To learn more about the Trevecca Urban Farm, its work in the community and the camps offered each summer, visit Trevecca.edu/UrbanFarm.