At the Manor of Hope, we are committed to the care and betterment of our residents. As a staff, we strive to learn and grow with our young men, and share new experiences that can be fun, educational and beneficial to our community and environment. One visit to the Manor campus, and visitors often gravitate to our beautiful, raised bed gardens. The gardens provide us with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and an opportunity to learn about agriculture. From crop rotation, to soil ecology, to pest management… we continually learn and grow together. Many life lessons can be learned from the tasks the garden… planning, maintenance, enrichment, nourishment… and our efforts are rewarded with outstanding yields. We make sure to share our produce with our neighbors, and contribute regularly to the Phoenixville Area Community Services.
To complement our gardens, in the summer of 2021, we felt that the addition of beehives would be the perfect counterpart to our gardens. Not only do bees help to pollinate garden plants, but, in time, will yield honey (and other products like wax and pollen) for our use. Armed with a little bit of knowledge and a willingness to learn, we soon found ourselves taking a beautiful ride out to Lancaster to procure the necessary equipment. Once home, we took inventory and went about the task of assembling and painting our boxes on a beautiful summer day.
The finished boxes were strategically placed on the edge of our woods, within view of our garden. Soon thereafter, our bee colony arrived and we introduced them to their new home. The bees got right to work, and in a short amount of time began filling out the available boxes with comb!
We suit up and check the hives weekly, inspecting the colony for signs of reproduction, pests and honey. Every time we open the lid, it is a wonder to see the bees in action. The efficiency, productivity and organization of these creatures is nothing short of incredible. Though we didn’t expect honey in our first season, our colony was hard at work, and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that we were able to harvest honey! Under the expert advice of our master beekeeper friend Walt (from the Chester County Beekeepers Association), we pulled a few frames and were invited to his home to learn about the process.
Capped cells are opened, and the frames are placed in a large centrifuge that pulls the honey out of the comb with little damage to the cells. (The frames are later returned to the hives for our bees to rebuild and fill with more honey). The honey is then filtered, tested for water content, and bottled. From a very small amount of comb, we were able to extract 12 pounds of beautiful clover honey! Walt has been an absolute pleasure to work with, and has been very patient and generous with his time as we learn about our bees.
We continue to monitor and maintain our hives, and look forward to the years ahead… caring for and learning from our bees. The resources offered by the CCBA have instrumental in providing us with answers to the many questions, and we were warmly welcomed by this community of fellow beekeepers. It has been, and continues to be, a truly unique and rewarding experience that our staff and residents share together. As always, we deeply appreciate the help and generosity of our friends, and are continually thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow at the Manor of Hope.