Landis Portraits: A Series About the People Behind the Plants at the Arboretum - Bruce Kearns

By Nolan Marciniec

Bruce Kearns
Bruce Kearns

Bruce Kearns spends a lot of time just watch­ing his bees going about their busi­ness in and out of the hive. Very cool,” he said. For Bruce, bee­keep­ing has been an enlight­en­ing, hum­bling, and reward­ing experience.

Bruce admit­ted that he stum­bled” onto keep­ing bees while seek­ing to make his life more sus­tain­able. Bee­keep­ing some­how seemed part of a mas­ter plan, along with installing solar pan­els, dri­ving an elec­tric vehi­cle, and rais­ing chick­ens. Bruce said that veg­etable gar­den­ing is his next fron­tier. In the sum­mer of 2019, Anne Frey asked him to work with her in main­tain­ing the Arboretum’s two demon­stra­tion hives and to take over when she relo­cat­ed from the area. Since then, he’s become the Arboretum’s bee­keep­er, inspect­ing hives, super­ing up,” requeen­ing, and per­form­ing a myr­i­ad of oth­er tasks – and har­vest­ing hon­ey too. These efforts make pos­si­ble the sale of Lan­dis’ own hon­ey at both the spring and fall plant sales. 

Bee hives are a nat­ur­al fit” for Lan­dis, Bruce said, since the Arbore­tum is all about nature. He point­ed out that, although a non-native species, hon­ey­bees are essen­tial for com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture in which main­tained bee colonies serve as the pri­ma­ry pol­li­na­tor of crops.

A videogame enthu­si­ast, Bruce described him­self as a sci­en­cy guy.” After serv­ing four years in the US Army, he earned a degree in Com­put­er Sci­ence from SUNY Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute in Uti­ca. He cur­rent­ly lives in Duanes­burg with his wife, Brandy, and two chil­dren, Bran­don, 12, and Blair, 7, and works as a soft­ware engi­neer for an Albany com­pa­ny. It’s no sur­prise that the sci­ence of bee­keep­ing appealed to him as a cit­i­zen scientist.”

Bruce hopes that the hives at the Arbore­tum raise aware­ness and an appre­ci­a­tion of the huge impact that these small insects have on the ecosys­tem. Bee­keep­ing, he said, is not for every­one. It demands an invest­ment of both time and mon­ey, and keep­ing bees healthy can some­times be a frus­trat­ing task. He not­ed that most back­yard bee­keep­ers give up after three years. But he insist­ed that, for him, the invest­ment has paid div­i­dends many times over. Once invest­ed, I am invest­ed,” he said. And bees, he quipped, are vast­ly more inter­est­ing than chick­ens. There is always some­thing to learn,” sea­son to sea­son, year after year: a con­stant chal­lenge to prob­lem solv­ing. Besides, he said, he enjoys just hang­ing with fel­low beekeepers.”

Bruce has begun to explore the Arbore­tum beyond the bee yard. He’s tak­en his fam­i­ly to vis­it the site of the Great Oak and plans to hike the trails with them. He’s been impressed by the diver­si­ty of the plant­i­ngs at Lan­dis and by the envi­ron­men­tal knowl­edge of direc­tor Fred Breglia. He’s look­ing for­ward to meet­ing oth­er mem­bers of the Lan­dis community.

Vis­i­tors to the Arbore­tum might spot a white jack­et­ed, veiled per­son, smok­er in hand, con­cen­tra­tion focused on one of the hives in the bee yard down the hill from the Green­house. He’s doing his part, help­ing the bees do their part in keep­ing the bal­ance in nature.

Spring 2024

Volume 42 , Number 1

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Mar 18, 2024

Landis Signature Spring Plant Book and Bake Sale

You don’t want to miss this! read more

Mar 18, 2024

Landis Houseplant Swap!

If you’re a houseplant lover, this event is for you! read more

Mar 11, 2024 | Anita Sanchez

A Shallow Dive into Vernal Pools

Spring is the time for water. First the icicles start to drip. Then the streams... read more

Mar 11, 2024 | Sam McClary

Never Underestimate Nature: Rejuvenating Old Apple Trees

While driving along country roads in the autumn, watching the falling leaves – I suddenly... read more

Mar 11, 2024 | Shayne Mitchell

News and Muse from the Bluebird Trail

I think it is safe to say that the Eastern bluebird is the favorite bird... read more

Mar 11, 2024 | Sue Tricario

Landis Membership Away from Home

A membership at the Landis Arboretum is your passport to over 360 public gardens and... read more

News Archive