7-year-old Pennsylvania beekeeper has hive with 50,000 bees
MANHEIM, Pa. (AP) — Dressed in black and yellow to look like the bees in his hive, 7-year-old Kellan Borecky of Penn Township explained how his honeybee friends accept him.
Kellan is the legal owner of his own bee apiary and one of the youngest members of the Lancaster County Beekeepers Society. He and his father, Justin Borecky, 33, of Penn Township, recently leveled up Kellan’s hive to level three, which means adding another 10 frames to the hive for the honeybees to work on.
The hive houses about 50,000 honeybees.
“All of the bees in the hive... are the queen’s kids,” Kellan said. “She just lays eggs.”
For the past three months, Kellan and his father have been learning from beekeeper enthusiast Dale Long, 69, of Warwick Township. Kellan got his first hive as a birthday gift from Long this year.
When asked if he wants to be a beekeeper when he grows up, Kellan confidently responded, “I am a beekeeper,” emphasizing “am.”
“I also want to be a chef and work at the Lego store,” Kellan added, but he is currently focused on beekeeping.
Kellan was 4 years old when he first asked his dad for bees, telling him how neat it was that bees help everything, Justin Borecky recalled.
“They pollinate (the flowers). They take the nectar from one flower and put it to the other flower to make the other flower be healthier and make more nectar for the next time,” Kellan said.
Justin Borecky explained why he and his son were initially intrigued by honeybees, saying, “(Kellan) has very high anxiety, and for some reason bees calm him down... He’s literally just had them on his hands and they calm him down. He loves it.”
On a recent summer day, Kellan, donning a white beekeeper suit, helped Long smoke one of Long’s hives that they were preparing to open. Beekeepers often expose hives to smoke so that the bees stay calm, enabling the beekeepers to handle the hives.
“We’re looking for eggs. We’re looking for the brood. We’re looking for the larva and the queen,” Justin Borecky said. “If we can’t find the queen, we look for eggs. If there’s one egg at the very bottom... that means she has been there recently. If we can’t find her, they’ll take one of those eggs she laid and turn it into another queen.”
In order to make honey, the honeybees begin by getting nectar and pollen from flowers; the nectar is what turns into honey, while the pollen is the protein source that baby honeybees feed on.
“They sometimes make pollen cake for the babies,” Kellan said. “It looks like chocolate cake but instead it’s in little combs.”
The honeybee produces wax through glands on its body to make a comb to then fill with nectar, Justin Borecky explained. Once the nectar evaporates into honey, they produce a little more wax to cap it off.
Kellan explained the importance of using smooth motions so as to not squish the bees.
“(Kellan) really has a way with bees,” Long said. “I’m more experienced, but I’m not quite as smooth.”
Before Kellan got his own bees, he did a lot of research on bees for a school project. He said his favorite parts of being a beekeeper are eating the honey and looking at the honeybees.
“It looks like they have tiny eyes, but they’re big eyes,” Kellan said.
His favorite way to eat honey is straight off the comb.
“It’s bee comb with honey in it and you can eat bee wax with the honey,” Kellan said.
Neither Kellan nor Justin Borecky have ever been stung by their honeybees. Kellan said that, although bees are known for their stingers, male honeybees, formally called drones, don’t have stingers. They are much larger and their eyes are connected on top.
Justin Borecky thought it was a phase, but three years later, he’s convinced bees have become a passion for his son.
“They accept me,” Kellan said. “They fly around me and then say I’m OK.”