The Beekeeper: In Her Own Words

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Editor’s Note: Joana Donaher first brought the idea of having a community apiary to the Agricultural Commission in February, 2018. Now going strong, the community apiary has 12 registered members.

On the day that WestfordCAT arrived to video record the beekeepers and their hives, Chris Pennella and Kathleen Bernard accompanied Donaher.

Here’s Donaher’s story in her own words:

The community beekeeping idea took hold in the Spring of 2018.
Over the winter of 2017, Mark O’Lalor (chairman of the Agricultural Commission) had spotted a bear sniffing around his beehives and sent a warning to us. We tied down our beehive, but a bear found our hive containing full frames of pollen (protein source) and honey. It destroyed the equipment that we were sharing with our neighbor Mike Mendes, to reach for a food source. We were planning on re building, but Mike wasn’t ready. By borrowing some of his and (resident) Kathleen Bernard’s equipment, we were able to ready a beehive to install a new package of bees in the Spring of 2018.

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So this core group of beekeepers in the neighborhood came to the thought that with this neighborly support, one of us was able to continue beekeeping. This extended to the idea that this support could work well within the town of Westford for folks wanting to learn about beekeeping and for those who wanted to pick it up again, but found it daunting to continue solo.
In October 2018 I presented our proposal to [to the AgCom] form a community apiary. It was well supported by this commission, as well as the Conservation Commission.
We have 12 registered members, some who own shares in the four beehives, but all who attend hive inspections, local community apiary meetings and county wide workshops, and help to maintain the grounds around the apiary. The goal of the community apiary is not only to keep bees, but to also learn about bee behavior and teach others about what we do. We hope to develop the education piece later this year.
We hope to increase our membership over the winter of 2020, when new members can attend bee school and maybe buy a share of a hive or even set out on their own and set up their own hive. Interested town residents can contact us at [email protected]gmail.com

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