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Spring in the Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum Apiary 🐝 May 20, 2019

Queen Bee cell - Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum

Celebrating World Bee Day!

Today is #WorldBeeDay, shining a light on the habitat of pollinators to improve the conditions for their survival so that bees and other pollinators may thrive. Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum (BCA) has our own pollinator initiatives. In its early days, the cemetery sold goods it produced on the property such as fruits, hay and honey to augment the burial business. As an homage to this practice, a honey bee colony was started in 2015. The bees also serve as an educational tool, highlighting the work Bellefontaine has done to provide habitat for pollinators. Volunteers and our horticulture staff serve as our beekeepers.

One of our volunteers authored this month’s blog post about the bees in the spring at BCA.  🍯🐝


Every garden, whether it consists of fruit trees, vegetables or flowers, is aided by a
variety of pollinators including bees, bats, hummingbirds, butterflies and even wasps. In addition to our reliance on these freelance pollinators, Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum manages a small apiary of honey bees.

Each individual hive within the apiary houses a colony of tens of thousands of bees and ONE queen bee. The queen’s sole job is to lay eggs. When the queen is laying eggs, the other bees are motivated to perform their tasks. he colony population expands and is better able to sustain and survive. However, when the queen’s egg laying becomes inadequate, she is injured or is lost from the hive, it becomes necessary to replace her with a viable queen. We encountered such a situation this spring when we found one of the hives to be without a queen. There are multiple ways to address this situation. One is to let the bees rear a new queen within the hive. But due to the timeline involved in this process, we elected to locate a mated queen and introduce her to the hive. Hopefully they will accept her and things will return to ‘normal’.

This queen was transported to her new colony via a queen cage.

queen bee - Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum
Queen bee at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum

She remains in the cage with a few attendant bees who take care of her while the bees in the host colony get acquainted. There is a sugar plug at the end of the queen cage that the attendants remove/eat to create an exit for the queen. If all goes well, she leaves the cage and begins laying eggs. Or… if she isn’t accepted by the host bees, they kill her. Nature: the bees know what the colony needs.

written by: Christine Bates,
Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum Volunteer


Queen Bee cell - Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum
Queen Bee cell at Bellefonaine Cemetery and Arboretum


To become a volunteer, complete this Volunteer Application and email it to dfuller@bellefontainecemetery.org or call (314)-381-0750, ext. 202 for more information. Applications may also be faxed to 314-381-0751.


We invite you to take a tour of Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum (BCA) and see our beautiful grounds. BCA’s grounds are home to an international variety of meticulously cared-for trees and shrubs, providing a changing landscape every season. Until the mid-twentieth century, Bellefontaine Cemetery was home to a greater variety of trees than the Missouri Botanical Garden. Today, our 1,100 shrubs and over 5,000 trees represent over 200 distinct varieties.

BCA is a Level II Accredited Arboretum and is listed in the Morton Register of Arboreta. BCA is the one of only two accredited arboretum in the city of St. Louis.

View upcoming events on our calendar.



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