Newly arrived freshman Bryce Laurendeau is hoping to share with his new friends and fellow students at Bridgewater State University the knowledge he gained this past year as a first-time beekeeper.
For his high school senior project, Bryce opted to host a colony of honey bees in his Bedford, New Hampshire, backyard.
Bryce, who is enrolled in BSU’s aviation sciences program, initially wanted to work on a flight-oriented project. That proved to be too expensive so he explored other options.
They aren’t airplanes, but they certainly do fly, which might be one reason the aspiring pilot turned his attention to honey bees.
“I thought it might be cool to give back to the bees,” he said.
Through research and the help of Allen Lindhal, owner of Hillside Apiaries in Merrimack, Bryce put together a plan to install a hive.
Once the structure was in place, it was time to add the bees – nearly 12,000 of them.
“I did get stung the first time. My suit wasn’t tight enough around the arms and one bee climbed up the sleeve,” he said.
Despite being stung, Bryce has come to learn that bees are surprisingly friendly.
“They won’t typically sting you,” he said.
After managing the one hive, Bryce opted to add to his colony.
He won two additional hives through the Jim Hirni Beekeeping Scholarship Award, named for a Hollis-based beekeeper who died of cancer in 2017.
The Merrimack Valley Beekeepers Association now sponsors the contest.
Currently, Bryce’s three hives house nearly 120,000 bees.
“Beekeeping is something I’ve come to enjoy,” he said. “A lot of people think it’s an exclusive, specialized task, but I’ve learned there are a lot of people who are into it.”
While studying at BSU, Bryce’s mother, Jacalyn, will manage the hives in his absence.
In the meantime, the new Bear is hoping to bring his passion for beekeeping to the BSU campus.
“If there is a way to set up hives here, if Bridgewater is willing to have it as a club or an extracurricular activity, I think it would be cool to teach people about it,” Bryce said. “I’d love to incorporate it and leave something behind here at the college.”