The secret life of bees…at GW

This week I’d really like to share this amazing story about what my teammate Matt K. experienced while researching information for team HoneyBee.  While it may have less to do directly with our client and the progress of our project, I think it illustrates the wealth of information that is available to us at GW and how to make use of it!

As you know, part of my team’s project is to recommend ways in which the Ana community could improve efficiency of their hives to produce more honey.  Since sadly none of us were apiculturists in this or any former lives, we had to find our primary information about bees from someone else’s brain. I’m sure you’re asking yourselves the same questions we were about a week ago.

                           “Where can one find someone with all the knowledge necessary to help us understand the lives of the Melipona Bee of the Amazon? ”                                                                                        

The answer is a little bit more surprising (and convenient) than you might have expected.

                          “Why around the corner from Duques Hall, on the roof top of Lisner Hall of course!”

Yes! Did you know that on the rooftop of the biology building live more than 500,000 bees? And this is Matt’s journey:

Matt sets up an appointment with Dr. Doebel for Friday at 3pm, when he arrives in front of Lisner Hall and can not find the Professor, he initially thinks he got stood up.  He calls Dr. Doebel anyway to check if he had scheduled the wrong time but what he can overhear from the other side of the telecommunication sounds like total mayhem


It turns out Dr. Doebel did not exactly forget about his appointment with Matt but rather was dealing with a bee emergency crisis! Dr. Doebel is in fact standing outside Tonic (a very popular GW restaurant) and when Matt joins him, he explains that the bees ran amok!  The hive in the biology department finally reached capacity, at which point the queen left the nest to find a place to set up a new pad. And that point in time was Friday at 3pm!  When the queen leaves the hive, the bees follow her scent and a swarm forms. And this particular swarm chose to set up in the busiest corner of the University (or shall I say the Beeziest corner, no? too much?).  So now Matt has to assist Dr. Doebel bringing the bees back home. They locate the queen on a tree branch, cut the branch out and put it in the bag to transport it back to the lab.  After this, Dr. Doebel in a bee suit and Matt (in a t-shirt!) place the bees in a box and try and locate the Queen.

From what I hear from Matt, he found the experience incredibly entertaining and educational. I believe his exact words where “I’m covered in Beeeees” (cf Eddie Izzard)

Despite all this commotion Dr. Doebel gave Matt incredibly useful information about hive constructions and about how our Amazon bees operates.  When we first started this project we had no idea how much local resources  we had available to us, and Dr. Doebel is definitely someone that we plan on using a lot.  Not only does he have a great brain to pick but he is also very excited about helping us accomplish our goals.


2 thoughts on “The secret life of bees…at GW

  1. Chloe,

    I was really impressed with your team’s presentation about bee keeping in Brazil! Special shout out to Matt K…he really knew his stuff and did a great job of explaining it to those of us who are not down in the weeds of honey bees!

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