The Honey Bee Initiative
A joint partnership between the School of Business and the College of Science

George Mason University’s Honey Bee Initiative FAQ’s

What do the bees do? What is the purpose of the HBI? 

The HBI mission is to:

  • Educate students and the community about the interdependence of pollinators and human food sources, and modeling best-practice methods in the management of honeybee hives
  • Advance global sustainability initiatives and economic alternatives for underserved regions
  • Collaborate with public and private groups on honey bee sustainability including proper queen selection and regional distribution

How many bees are part of the HBI?

Mason has a total of 37 hives under its care. The total population can range between 5,000 to 45,000 bees per hive, depending on the time of year.

On campus:

  • Nine hives located near Buchanan House on Mason's Fairfax campus
  • Four hives in a fenced yard on Patriot Circle, across from President’s Park

Off campus:

  • Four hives at Merrifield Garden Center
  • 20 hives on three separate private properties

Is it dangerous to have bees on campus? 

No. Since they are vegetarians (unlike wasps who are meat eaters), honeybees are not aggressive by nature and only seek pollen and nectar sources. Honeybees only sting when protecting their hive or themselves from a threat. Occasionally, observers may encounter a swarm of bees looking for a new hive. These bees will gather on a tree limb or concealed space until scouts find a new home, usually within 12 to 36 hours. During swarming, the bees have nothing to defend, so they are unusually calm and not prone to sting.

What does Mason do with its honey? Can I purchase it?

Currently, the honey will be left in the hives to support the bees through the winter. As excess honey is produced, it may be available for distribution.

Can I visit the Mason bees?

Generally, visits to the bees are reserved for Mason students currently enrolled in beekeeping classes. On occasion, we may be able to provide educational tours for small community groups. If you would like more information please call 703-307-6770.

I am a Mason student. Can I take a beekeeping class?

Yes, this fall NCLC 395: Beekeeping and Sustainability is open to third and fourth year Mason students. Two companion courses will be offered in the following spring and summer. Some courses are cross-listed and geared to concurrently satisfy graduate level requirements. 

I am not a Mason student. Can I take a beekeeping class?

At this time, we do not offer any beekeeping courses for the general public. We would encourage interested parties to contact their local beekeeping association. For Fairfax County, BANV (the Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia, can provide information on how to get involved with beekeeping. In Manassas and points west, contact the Prince William Regional Beekeepers Association (

How can I partner with the HBI?

Please visit our partners page for more information.


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