I’d like to share my son’s Eagle Scout project with you. He designed, built, and installed a honeybee observation hive and educational kiosk in our local library to earn his Eagle Scout rank.


We live in a very small rural town and the library plays the part of a community center in addition to providing books and such. Many activities are held and sponsored by the library. From music concerts, movie nights, potlucks, plays to yoga and even a ukulele club. I started teaching a yearly “Introduction to Beekeeping” two-day course about 5 years ago that has led to a monthly bee group meeting. The library has been very supportive of our beekeeping endeavors that bring in people from adjacent counties as well. So when it was time for my son to choose an eagle scout project they were more than happy to listen to his proposal and were very supportive through the whole process.


The initial thoughts was to make an observation hive that could be moved with a hand truck outside when required. Here was the first concept design.

Shortly after he started, I was contacted by the architect who was commissioned to design an observation hive for the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. Since he had no beekeeping experience, I advised him on the critical dimensions of bee space and ventilation. When he found out about the eagle project, he was kind enough to give my son permission to use any of his design that my son wanted.

image credit – Liberty Science Center

Seeing the Liberty Science Museum design, led to changes in the eagle project design to have a stationary base unit and a removable hive section. With the stationary base unit, an educational kiosk with a slideshow was incorporated. Here is the revised design.

Additional Design Requirements

Since the library was kind enough to give him floor space on the main floor, he decided that the installation should not require any modifications to the library. Thinking towards the future, there will come a time that the hive will need to be removed. Once removed, there should be no evidence that it was there. Therefore no screws into the floor, no entrance holes through the wall, etc. The hive would also be in a public place, so some extraordinary measures needed to be taken, that wouldn’t normally be done with a personal observation hive, for safety sake.

  • It had to be stable and resistant to people pushing, leaning, or trying to move it.
    • This was accomplished by building a wide bottom base for a larger footprint, provided seating, a stepping platform for younger viewers, and space for bags of play sand to make it rock solid.
  • It had to be bullet-proof (not literally) against breakage and tampering to prevent bees from escaping.
    • This required the use of safety glass in the doors, which ended up being the biggest expense of the build.
    • It was also designed so that the hive unit doors hinged in a way that prevented them from opening when installed in the base unit.
    • The hive unit has two key locked clasps that keep in secure in the base unit.
  • The entrance was designed as a shim that was fitted into a slightly opened window. In a similar fashion that a window air condition unit is mounted.


The original plan was to mount a 10″ tablet into the kiosk running an informational slideshow. After looking at the cost, it was much cheaper to buy a 19″ monitor and a Raspberry Pi single board computer to run the slideshow. It also provided a much larger viewing area for better user experience.

The Building

He received help with the build from fellow scouts and the local 4-H group.

The Finished Project

The finished hive is a huge hit. People are coming to the library just to see the bees. Many regular visitors head right to the hive first thing “to check on the bees”. Children are really hooked and just want to watch them forever. The librarian also informed us that she is even getting feedback from other libraries that their members are talking about it.

The Dedication

The project was dedicated to a lifelong resident and supporter of scouting. He was 10 years old when his father started the troop in 1936 and was a member until he passed away in 2016.

What was learned?

In addition to the normal learning experiences that an eagle project provides:

  • Leadership
  • Time Management
  • People/Team Management
  • Finance/Budgeting
  • Planning
  • etc

He also learned:

  • CAD
  • Carpentry skill
  • Electric wiring
  • Raspberry Pi Programming

Media Coverage

The local newspaper also did a nice article that can be viewed online HERE

Saved the best until last!

I’ll conclude with a little incident that happened while we where installing the bees.

Since honeybees fly during the day and not at night, the ideal time to move them is after dark. We bought the observation hive part home to our bee yard and moved a small hive of bees into it. We gave them a day to get acclimated to their new home and made arrangements with the Library director to move them to the library one night. We had received a key, but could not do it until after 10PM because they were having a movie night.

The plan was to not only to bring the hive portion with the bees, but bring the PVC entrance tube which needed to be custom cut onsite to fit.

We arrived about 10:30PM and easily got the observation hive in place and began to work on the entrance install. We had our pickup truck outside with the tailgate down that we used as a workbench to cut and modify the entrance. We did all the cutting outside so that we wouldn’t make any mess in the library. After many trips in and out to make minor tweaks we had the entrance set up. As we were wrapping things up we heard a call pull up out back where the truck was parked. So I proceeded to the back door, screw gun in hand, to see who it was. As I walked out the door, I was confronted by 3 cops with guns drawn standing behind their open car doors yelling


I immediate dropped the screw gun and put my hands up. They then yelled to me “who else is inside, tell them to come out”.
Luckily my son heard the commotion and came to the back room where he could hear me telling him to come out. So now we are both standing in the parking lot with our hands up as we explained what we were doing, that we had permission to be there, and had a key to get in. After a bunch more questions, running my driver’s license and truck plate, they informed us that the neighbor called it in. This is what happens when you get people migrating north from NY City to a weekend get-a-way home. Lifelong residents would have recognized “work” going on at the back of the truck and came over and given a hand.

Once they found out what we were doing there, they were interested in going inside and checking out the observation hive and learning about it.

On the way home, my son innocently asked, “Will this be on my record the rest of my life?” I then explained to him that he was not arrested and assured him it wouldn’t be on his “record”.

I don’t think there are too many Eagle Scouts that got to explain to the Eagle Scout review board that they were held at gunpoint by the police while doing their project.