Rutgers University is abuzz with a new student organization.
Hive, The Apiculture Society at Rutgers, convened in April, and since that time has started and nurtured four beehives, the sweet and sticky spoils of which were recently harvested.
Founder Chris Farina, 20, of Watchung, said he and a friend came up with the idea for the club after taking an apiculture class at Rutgers.
Currently, the club has four hives on Cook campus, with each hive containing a colony of between 20,000 to 70,000 bees, Farina said.
Farina said the boxes containing the hives were already on campus, but were abandoned. The club was able to use those existing structures by planting new colonies.
Currently, the bees are not expected to make much more honey, and will soon go into hibernation. At that point, the hives will be closed up and brought to a greenhouse on Cook Campus for the winter.
While the bees hibernate, they will cluster around the queen, creating a temperature of 90 degrees fahrenheit, Farina said.
Farina said the club has had an average turnout of about 25 people at their recent meetings, but their email list has more than 100 people signed up, a mix of Rutgers students and staff and community members.
Keekeepers from around the state have offered guidance and support to the club, he said, including Stiles Apiaries, located in the Fords section of Woodbridge and the New Jersey Beekeepers Association.
Recently, the club harvested their first crop of honey: 768 ounces that was put into 96 bottles.
Farina said the club is currently in the process of selling the honey for $7 or $10 per bottle. Proceeds will go to the club to purchase equipment needed for the spring.
Despite the major return on their investment, the club's only goal is not to produce honey. They also seek to spread information about the importance of the honeybee.
Farina said a goal of the club is to eventually have hives on every campus to enrich the ecosystems of those areas. He himself has a hive at his home, in addition to the club's hives, and has only been stung once.
During a recent visit to the hives, Farina and a reporter were able to stand right next to a hive without needing protective gear.
Farina said that for the most part, the bees were "domesticated" and for the most part do not sting visitors if they aren't threatening the hive.
"They don't mind you," Farina said, opening up the top of the hive for a better look at dozens of crawling bees. "As long as you're not bothering them."
For more information on Hive, the Apiculture Society at Rutgers, visit www.facebook.com/hive.rutgers.