The Rider News (TRN) got a chance to talk with Stephen Schwartz, senior geoscience major, about his time as the school’s beekeeper, his upcoming beekeeping guide, and his hopes for the future of the position.
TRN: How did you become Rider’s beekeeper?
SS: I was working in the garden my sophomore year and I mentioned how I wanted to see the hives, and standing behind me was Loren Pagan, the then- current campus beekeeper who just graduated. She took me to them and as soon as I opened the hives, I was hooked.
TRN: What fascinates you the most about bees?
SS: Bees have always interested me ever since I was a little kid. Bees are the backbone of agriculture and when I hear people hate bees, it makes me think they hate food, also. Bees are so interesting, and I always want to learn more about them.
TRN: What is the hardest part of the job?
SS: The hardest part of beekeeping doesn’t actually have to do with the bees. The hardest part is dealing with the general public who doesn’t know or want to know about bees. When I hear things like, “Oh just kill it, it’s annoying,” I get really upset. I try my best to educate; we need to let people know everything they can about the bees.
TRN: What is your fondest memory so far?
One that sticks out is when I was moving in a new colony of bees into a hive, and we released the queen. She stayed on my hand and I swear she looked at me for a good 10 seconds, and then jumped down into the hive on her own. I am not sure what she was thinking of me, but it was a really amazing sight. It was just the queen on my finger and I got to study her for those 10 seconds. I swear she was saying goodbye.
TRN: Where do you see beekeeping in your future?
SS: I will beekeep until the day I die. Depending on where I live or work, I will make sure that I have at least one hive with me. I am hopefully joining the Peace Corps after graduation to work with agriculture sustainability, and beekeeping, too. Hopefully I can teach about bees during my stay, wherever I go.
TRN: What can you tell the Rider community about your beekeeping guide?
SS: I will be working on the “Rider Beekeeping Guide” over winter break, and hopefully it will be finished by then. The guide will consist of what to do year-round regarding bees and will include the differences among the male and female bees, as well as some basic precautionary tidbits of info.
TRN: Finally, with your graduation around the corner, is there any young keeper prospect? What will it take to fill your position?
SS: A few students have shown interest. I have brought them back to the hives, but nothing is official yet. Future beekeepers need to not want to rush things, they need to have a passion for learning. A fear of bees is not always bad either. It will force one to be more careful. But the most important thing is to want to learn, and have a love for nature.
Printed in the 10/28/14 issue.