by Kayla Shore
Instead of spending the final term of her senior year counting down the days until freedom, Andrea Marzilli was outside, keeping bees and jarring honey.
Marzilli came up with her idea for her Senior Year Project from both her love of honey and her irritation with her seasonal allergies.
“One day, I was eating honey and talking about how much I love it, and a friend said I should use it in my SYP,” she said.
Her seasonal allergies were the inspiration for the research she did on the medical effects of honey and how it has been used historically.
Along with doing this research, Marzilli kept bees and conducted a study using the honey she jarred.
So that she was able to take care of her own hive, Marzilli worked at family friend’s house. “This way, I’ll be able to continue over the summer,” she said. Keeping a hive at her house would require at least a year-long committment. Marzilli harvested the honey herself.
There were some difficulties with the logistics of this part of her project, said Marzilli, which surprisingly do not include overcoming the fear of bees. She took care of that, she said, when she was eight and was stung by a whole hive of bees.
“The beekeeping didn’t start until May because of the cold weather, which means my project wasn’t be finished by the end of the term,” she said.
She kept bees for the first time in the first week of May.
“It’s incredible hearing the buzz and connecting with the bees in some strange way.”
Once she harvested the honey, she conducted an experiment to test whether local honey can alleviate seasonal allergies, she said.
“I have a couple people, myself included, that have really bad allergies that I used for my project,” she said. Some test subjects ate the honey, and others did not, so Marzilli could see how the local honey affected people’s seasonal allergies.
Helping her with the medical honey part of her project was her former doctor, who had left his practice to do homeopathic studies.
For the SYP required research paper, Marzilli examined the medical effects of honey and its use in medicinal practices through the ages.
There is a relatively few number of high schools where students like Marzilli are given the opportunity to parlay practically any interest into a focused topic of study, especially with the support of the school.
“I chose SYP because I wanted a chance to finally be able to do my own work,” she said.
“Maybe the coolest part of SYP is that we’re given the opportunity to manage our time,” she said, adding that SYP really prepared her to manage her course load in college.
If Marzilli can solve her allergy problem, the benefits of college-preparedness will probably pale next to the achievement of sneeze-free springs.