Name: Martin Ogle
Describe yourself: Chief Naturalist for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority

When did you start, and why?
Beekeeping has been an educational feature of Potomac Overlook Regional Park for over 20 years.  It is an excellent way to educated the public not only about honeybees themselves, but also about ecology, insects, weather and other topics in general.  We have a display hive that is set up inside the nature center in addition to working hives outside.  The display hive allows people to peer right into the inner workings of a bee colony.

What’s the best thing about doing it?
The display hive and also when we have honey programs with our beekeeper – he extracts honey frames from the hives and participants get to help remove honey (by cranking centrifuge) and to sample honey.

What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve learned?
There are so many unexpected and profound things to learn from a bee colony.  One small example for me was being able to actually witness the establishment of a new queen bee after the previous queen had flown off with about 1/2 the colony (a process called “swarming”).   Early one morning, a new queen bee had emerged from the cell in which she was raised.  She made her way over to a cell where another queen was being raised – led by a wedge of worker bees – and proceeded to sting the other queen while it was still in its cell.  Thus, a new queen took over.  Of course, this competitive act is set in the context of the incredible symbiotic and cooperative life of the hive, overall, and instructs us on how life is made up of both kinds of evolution – competitive and symbiotic.

Read more about Beekeeping:

  • article from March 7, 2010 about urban beekeeping in the metro DC area, and the White House bee hives.