This Shout Out goes to Kristin Wolf, Associate Professor in the Core Division and member of the Advisory Board for the Environmental Studies & Policy major. She also is the founder and manager of the Champlain Apiary.

“I’m an environmental scientist by training, and I’m always thinking about ways to demonstrate the intricacies of ecosystem dynamics. The bees showcase this beautifully as they provide an essential ecosystem service through pollination and thus have direct link to our food system and natural landscape. It’s also incredibly satisfying to introduce students of all ages to the bees and dispel the notion that honeybees are aggressive or scary. When you stand hive side and watch, feel, and listen to them fly all around you, it’s a transformative experience.”

Kristin Wolf shows students the honeycombs inside the hives.

In addition to establishing the Champlain Apiary as a place to provide experiential learning opportunities for students, Wolf integrates experiential learning into her classes. In the spring, she teaches a Core class about the communities of the Amazon River basin.  As part of the class, students travel to Peru to collaborate with rainforest communities on managing tropical, stingless bees and teaching non-destructive harvest techniques.

We wanted to know why Wolf founded the apiary and how it’s grown:

“I started the apiary in 2013 in order to provide experiential learning opportunities for students of all majors.”

“Since then, students have created its logo, brand, and marketing materials, developed curriculum for our younger visitors, fundraised for infrastructure improvements and education initiatives, planted bee-friendly landscaping, lobbied for pollinator protective policy reform at the state level, produced bee-related films and video games, developed new beeswax products, and bottled and sold honey every year in order to financially support the apiary.

Because of this student investment, we have been able to expand our educational reach to host many summer camps and elementary schools in the Burlington area, which has made our apiary an important community resource.”

Students in Kristin Wolf’s class frequently engage in hands-on learning, beekeeping suits and all.

  • During peak season, each of our three hives has about 30,000–40,000 bees in it, so that’s more than 100,000 bees in the apiary!
  • Each of our hives produces about 75 pounds of harvestable honey a year. The rest (about 100 pounds or so), we leave for them so that they can consume it through the winter. Honey is the carbohydrate-rich fuel that gives them the energy to overwinter in our cold climate.
  • Our bees have produced more than 1,500 pounds of honey since we started in 2013!
  • The apiary has collaborated with 18 local organizations and had more than 1,000 visitors to date, including Champlain students, summer camps, pre-, elementary, and high school students, and Burlington educators.

Learning the buzz about experiential learning and sustainable agriculture with Kristin Wolf.

Interested in learning more about Champlain College’s sustainability initiatives? Check out Sustain Champlain to see how you can get involved!

Quinn Kanner
Quinn Kanner, ‘19 // Professional Writing, is a Champlain College alum and former writer on Champlain’s Media Team. She currently works as a Content Marketing Specialist for New Breed Marketing in Burlington, VT after completing an internship with them during her senior year.

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