Caring for and learning about bees is as sweet as honey for SJC Long Island graduate student Shantal Smith.
Smith, a native of the island of Jamaica, shared stories of beekeeping and the importance of bees in society with her peers during a common hour presentation Oct. 27 in the Shea Conference Center.
“Busy as a bee isn’t just a saying,” said Smith, who expects to graduate with an MBA in 2022. “These are the busiest, most hard working, ambitious creatures. They are small, but they work around the clock.”
Smith’s life was always intertwined with bees. She remembers climbing an apple tree, under her grandfather’s supervision, as a child with bees perched on many of the branches. Her family opened a beekeeping business in Jamaica about 10 years ago. Then, in 2016 — after Smith finished her undergraduate in hospitality and tourism in Jamaica — she was selected by the Jamaican government to spend two and a half months studying beekeeping in China.
Once she graduates from St. Joseph’s, Smith plans to return to Jamaica to open her own beekeeping business and donate beekeeping boxes to local schools.
Sharing Her Passion of Bees
Smith said when people say they are afraid of bees she likes to remind them of the importance of bee pollination. She noted that many popular fruits and vegetables require bee pollination to grow, including apples, peaches, carrots, avocados and tangerines.
“The majority of the food we eat is produced by honeybees,” Smith said. “Most flowering plants rely on bees for pollination and we would have hardly any fruits and vegetables to eat without honeybees.”
She added that honey produced by bees also has many medicinal and healing effects.
Linda Lubranski, coordinator of Global Studies and director of academic engagement, said she enjoyed Smith’s presentation, noting that SJC Long Island’s international students always bring fascinating life experiences to the College’s campus and classrooms.
“Shantal Smith serves as an inspiration both to me personally and the College community,” Lubranski said. “She has a zeal for beekeeping, which extends to future aspirations of developing programs in ecotourism, alongside her family’s beekeeping business. It’s impressive to hear that she represented the Jamaican government at a two-month beekeeping seminar, plus also exchanged methodologies with beekeepers from around the world!”
After the event, Smith answered questions and shared a bee themed word search puzzle, notebooks that say “Be Happy, Be Bright, Be You” on the cover, a bee keychain, and tiny jars of honey from her family’s bees in Jamaica with the attendees.
“United we stand and divided we fall,” Smith said. “And we will fall off the face of the Earth without bees.”