School-wide Collaboration Helps Bring Beekeeping Program to Southeastern

Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School’s Environmental & Biotechnology Program is all a buzz with the recent addition of Beekeeping to their curriculum and the anticipated arrival of sixty-thousand bees.

According to Instructor Greg Gaudreau, a certified Beekeeper through the Norfolk County Beekeepers Association, the program’s sixty-thousand bees will be housed in three different types of hives, one Top Bar, two Langstroths and one Flowhive.

Two of the three hive styles were built through a collaboration of Southeastern’s Precision Machining, Metal Fabrication & Carpentry programs.

Gaudreau provided a prototype of the Langstroth and blueprints for the Top Bar. Each program involved designed and produced the precision pieces that correlate with their technical specialty.

Carpentry instructor, Marc Raimondo, said it took the 9th and 10th grade students about three weeks to complete their portion of the projects.

“It was a great live-job experience for our students. Deadlines and quality, it’s about making the customer happy.” Raimondo said, “This also gives us the opportunity to make additional bee hives for future customers.”

According to Precision Machining Instructor, John Medeiros, their portion of the project, a slotted aluminum cover that the bees will fit through, was managed from inception to completion by ‘girl power’.

Sophomore Cora Boyle, from East Bridgewater, utilized a plastic prototype and absolute dimensioning to create a CAD drawing that Freshman Colleen Wood, from Norton, and Senior Krista Carbonara, from Brockton, used to program the CNC machine for milling.

According to Medeiros, there were fourteen rows with sixty-four slots each that had to be very accurate. He said, “It was an exciting real-life project for those students involved. It was great for the students that worked on this project to see the finished result and how it integrated with the whole.”

Carbonara said, “It was great to actually make something for a purpose.”

Metal Fabrication Junior, Dustin Rosenfield, from West Bridgewater, created the racks that hold up the hive frames. Using a photo provided by Gaudreau, Rosenfield chose 3/8 x 1/2” mild steel for this project. He cut lengths and bent angles on the shop’s ironworker machine, and where necessary by hand, after heating the metal with a torch. He used MIG welding to complete the project.

Rosenfield said, “It was interesting to have customer input. We modified the project as things can change as you go.”

Each student involved in the Beekeeping Program is required to pass several written safety exams prior to hands-on instruction. According to Gaudreau, they have all had experience with practice runs on empty hives.

Gaudreau credits fellow Environmental & Biotechnology Instructor, Heather Stoddard, with facilitating and organizing the paperwork and communication necessary to bring the Beekeeping program to Southeastern.

Stoddard said, “I was sure to communicate early and often every step of the way, even letting them know when the bees were ordered, and when to expect their arrival.”

Stoddard adds, “I wanted to make sure the kids and Greg (Gaudreau) wouldn’t be disappointed.”

Gaudreau said, “The whole bee topic is a very hot topic environmentally, with a large percentage of our crops requiring pollination. I believe we are the first vocational school to have a Beekeeping program.”

Gaudreau is building the curriculum that will expose students to problem solving, team building, record keeping, critical thinking and deduction along with the real-life experience of beekeeping.

By:  Karen Olson