The Schoolcraft Beekeeping Club makes a buzz
By Benjamin Gresko
Of the over fifty clubs at Schoolcraft College, the long-standing Beekeeping Club has remained one of the most hidden treasures. The Beekeeping club’s conception was only three years after Schoolcraft first opened in 1961. Roger Sutherland, the creator and President of the Schoolcraft Beekeeping club, is an iconic thread in the fabric of the college’s colorful history.
Roger Sutherland began his teaching career at Schoolcraft College in 1964 and was one of only two biology teachers at that time. Roger was also the head of the Continuing Education Department and was assigned the task of devising the classes that Schoolcraft offers. He chose one of his personal hobbies for inspiration, the art of beekeeping. The campus agreed and one year later there were fifty-three buzzing beehives in the area where the Childcare Center exists today.
“At that time, many Schoolcraft students didn’t even know the hives were there!” chuckled Roger. The students enrolled in Professor Southerland’s beekeeping class were in charge of maintaining and winterizing the hives, and eventually collecting honey, for purely educational purposes. The exceptional students who wanted to go above and beyond the curriculum were encouraged to join the “Schoolcraft College Honey-House Club,” as it was known at that time. Roger used to have the students extract honey in his own garage off of Haggerty road, but Schoolcraft granted him some funding to set up a honey extraction facility on campus, complete with all the necessary equipment.
As the years passed, the college changed its curriculum and the beekeeping class was no longer offered; the hives and extraction equipment needed to be moved. The club’s members still maintained their enthusiasm for beekeeping, so Roger moved his beehives to a pole barn in west Plymouth where they could meet and continue pursuing their passion.
Roger Sutherland retired from teaching at Schoolcraft College in 1991, but is still an active member of the campus community and the beekeeping community at eighty-six years young. Not only does he speak at Beekeeping club meetings, he participates in awareness-raising events, such as Earth Day where he describes the ecological importance that bees have in our environment, such as pollination.
Roger and his wife, Mary Sutherland, have published a beekeeping newsletter for twenty-three years and have created a booklet that will be of great value to any aspiring beekeeper. The Schoolcraft Beekeeping club has merged with the Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers Association (SEMBA) and now has more access to the expertise of many more beekeepers. All those who may be interested in joining the Schoolcraft Beekeeping Club are encouraged to contact Roger Sutherland himself at email@example.com or visit the SEMBA website at www.sembabees.org.