Creating a Sun Hive

24 Aug

I’m a student in the Environmental Concentration: Sustainable Food. In addition to the typical six courses required for a minor, concentrations at Smith require that each student engage in practical, hands on experience related to their topic. My first practicum experience for the Sustainable Food Concentration was absolutely amazing.

I started out the summer at Hampshire College’s Food, Farm and Sustainability Institute.  This program counted as both an academic and practical experience towards my concentration and I was also able to use Praxis funding towards the cost of tuition.  The program ran from early June to mid July during which time I went to class for three hours each day and learned about pest management, soil health, livestock, and fermentation.  We participated in animal and veggie chores as well as amazing field trips on Fridays.  Fellow Smithies Theo Sweezy (’14) and Casey Rau (’16) were also in the program.  I would recommend this program to anyone interested in agriculture in the Valley, especially others in the Sustainable Food Concentration.

I decided to attempt to create a Sun Hive while I was writing my final paper for the Institute about biodynamic beekeeping. I had not thought about how integral honeybees are to agriculture, but after learning about Colony Collapse Disorder and watching the documentary Queen of the Sun I became passionate about the issue of disappearing bees and wanted to do something about it. After the Institute ended, I still needed to complete approximately 100 more work hours to fulfill my obligations for Praxis, and so the idea of creating a biodynamic hive was born.  I absolutely love Smith courses but so often assessments are tests or papers, so this was a way to learn through a hands on project– and a lot of trial and error.

I chose to create a Sun Hive because it is so different from Langstroth box hives and it aesthetically pleasing.  The purpose of a Sun Hive is to create a safe haven for bees and not honey production, although during honey flow a honey super can be added to the top.  The Sun Hive has removable arch frames so the comb can be inspected for mites and diseases.

With my father, blacksmith Larry Crockett, who helped me tremendously with the woodworking aspects of this project.

I purchased the design plans for the Sun Hive from a biodynamic beekeeper in California and he corresponded with me through emails and phone calls throughout the process. Completing the Sun Hive took about a month.  The most time consuming aspect of it was collecting harding grass from my fields and processing it: cutting off the seed heads and side leaves, drying it, spraying it with water, beating it with a wooden mallet to make it pliable, and then sewing it with rattan cane.

I entered the hive in the 251st Hardwick Fair where it won a state award from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, which was a huge honor.


At the Hardwick Fair with friends from Smith.
(L to R) Amelia Burke (’15) Haley Crockett (’15) Anuujin Elbegdorj (’15) Missy Kubik (’15) and Charlotte Dzialo (’16).

-Haley Crockett, ’15

Haley Crockett is a rising Junior from Lamont House.  She is an American Studies major, English minor, and a Sustainable Food Concentrator.

3 Responses to “Creating a Sun Hive”

  1. Melissa vanek June 29, 2015 at 7:39 am #

    I would be interested in purchasing a sun hive from you and also to see if I could help you if you make another. Wonderful work!

    • Smith College CEEDS July 14, 2015 at 9:14 am #

      Thanks for your interest Melissa! It is pretty fabulous, isn’t it?

      • Melissa July 14, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

        Yes. Very much so!

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