COVINGTON, La. – After flooding in March, the St. Joseph’s Abbey beekeeper got a sweet surprise Wednesday.

The Abbey is still recovering after it was badly damaged in March during flooding. As it works to restore its buildings, it’s also trying to restore its honey beehive collection, used to sell honey in the gift shop.

"Some of these boxes I found almost a half a mile down that way," said Jeff Horchuff as he pointed down the road. Horchuff volunteers at St Joseph Abbey doing odd jobs.

"Yeah, I have a lot of titles but the one I like the most is Bee Wrangler," he explained, laughing.

He's been keeping honey bees on the Abbey for over four years, but in March, the rising flood waters washed away his colonies.

"These boxes they got caught in the current, and the road was like a river and someone told me they saw a bee box just tumbling in the river," he recalled.

But a class at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie wanted to help.

"When he sent us the video of what had happened when it flooded the kids were devastated absolutely devastated," said Mary-Lee Sauchier, a first-grade teacher.

The class sold flowers before and after school to raise over $600 which they used to purchase beekeeping equipment. Wednesday they surprised Horchuff with it.

"When I saw them coming with the banners and all the equipment, I said man look at this," said Horchuff.
Students agreed that saving the honeybees was worth the time and effort, and some even said it was fun to save things.

"For kids that young to be able to want to be selfless, that's just, what a gift,” said Horchuff. “And to be a recipient of that gift is even more precious."