Philadelphia is passionate about beekeeping
By Sally Pearson
There are many unknowing Philadelphians living with a beehive right next door.
“When a hive is happy and healthy and non-aggressive, there’s no issue,” said beekeeper Eli St. Amour. “Neighbors don’t even know that there are bees.”
St. Amour’s hives at Haverford College are likely overlooked by many students. They hide in the corner of campus on the small Haverford farm.
Most beekeepers fall into one of two categories: hobby beekeepers or commercial beekeepers. Hobby beekeepers might sell honey and break even on a good year, but don’t treat beekeeping as their main job, said St. Amour. Whereas commercial beekeepers do, often owning hundreds of hives.
St. Amour doesn’t fall into either of these categories. He operates about 20 hives at 10 different locations around the Philadelphia area and focuses on the educational aspect of beekeeping. In the younger schools where he keeps hives, like Friends School Haverford, the focus is on sharing the importance of bees and getting kids excited about them. “‘Hey look, bees, bees are good bugs’, that sort of education,” said St. Amour.
At the colleges where he operates, like Haverford and Bryn Mawr , education factors into their wider sustainable education initiatives.
“It’s one of the most easy insects to study”, said St. Amour. “You can take apart one of these hives and look at every single cell and put it back together and you haven’t destroyed anything”
The bulk of his income comes from the contracts with these locations to install and care for hives, but he also sells honey and lip balm.
St. Amour is experienced–he has been beekeeping for 10 years he’s only 23. He started when he was 12 after a field trip.
He was homeschooled so had time to pursue beekeeping. He apprenticed at Harriton House, in Bryn Mawr, where he learned a lot about beekeeping. He started his first hive soon after. He’s just graduated with a degree in Sustainable Business from Saint Joseph’s University and plans to pursue beekeeping full-time. Continue reading