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Beekeeping Program at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital

Honeybees are a vital part of the ecosystem.

Raising honeybees at UPMC Magee:

  • Spreads awareness about declining bee populations and the value of planting pollinator-friendly gardens.
  • Is an innovative and sustainable way to support our community.
  • Allows us to harvest honey from the hives that we use in recipes in the hospital's cafeteria and catered events.

The bees are in an isolated area on Magee's campus. They help pollinate flowers, vegetables, and other plants in the Oakland area, including Magee's gardens.

How the Magee Beekeeping Program Got Started

The Magee beekeeping program launched in 2018.

To get started, some Magee staff members took a beekeeping class. Magee also partnered with Burgh Bees, a local nonprofit that promotes urban beekeeping.

Magee built an area for two beehives on the hospital's campus.

Each beehive contains one queen and thousands of worker bees.

The queen can lay between 1,500 and 2,000 eggs a day. This means in the summer, there can be up to 60,000 to 80,000 bees in each hive.

UPMC Magee's Bee Team

Magee's beekeeping program brings together staff volunteers from various departments, including:

  • Maintenance.
  • Nutrition.
  • Administration.
  • HR.

The lead beekeeper and one or two other members of Magee's Bee Team inspect the hives:

  • Once a week in the spring to avoid swarming.
  • Less in the summer months while the bees are busy making honey.

Magee's Bee Team keeps the hives healthy by:

  • Locating and checking in on the queen.
  • Making sure the queen is laying new eggs.
  • Checking and treating the hives for mites.

Harvesting Honey from UPMC Magee's Beehives

A healthy hive makes a lot of honey.

It takes about 550 worker bees to gather one pound of honey from about two million flowers. Bees make two to three times more honey than they need.

Once the hives are full enough, Magee's Bee Team can harvest the honey.

Extracting honey from the hive is a complex process.

The team:

  1. Opens the hive and takes out a frame.
  2. Gently brushes the bees away from the frame.
  3. Uncaps the honey cells from each frame.
  4. Spins out, strains, and collects the honey.

In 2022, Magee's Bee Team harvested about 7 gallons (around 80 pounds) of honey.

Sustainability is vital when harvesting honey. It took over a year for the bees to make enough honey to harvest.

Magee's Bee Team leaves enough honey for the bees to feed themselves through the winter months.

Fresh Honey in UPMC Magee's Cafeteria

Once the Bee Team extracts the honey, our chefs use it in cafeteria recipes.

Some favorite dishes of our patients, visitors, and staff are:

  • Honey glazed salmon.
  • Honey ginger chicken.
  • Honey sriracha pork loins.