Raising bees at BC

BC will soon have its very own beehives. After the BC risk management team approves the project, five hives will be purchased for the college. They will be housed behind the S building complete with a lookout point nearby for visitors to appreciate the beehives from a safe distance.

The hives will be maintained by the BC Bee Club and provide learning opportunities for a variety of science classes on campus. The club and the project itself are still in the development process and roles and routines for the care of the bees will be established soon, according to Craig Hauser, one of the organizers of the club. He has been organizing the project since the beginning. Although he is employed with BC sustainability, he is participating in the Bee Club solely as a student.

When talking to other students about having bees on campus, Hauser explained that reactions have either been strong enthusiasm or fear of being stung. While bees do occasionally sting people, Hauser and Jason Fuller, club adviser, both assured that it doesn’t pose a risk to students and they shouldn’t be afraid.

“There are already many pollinators on campus, and even having five hives will probably not raise the general amount of bees enough to notice,” Hauser assured students and faculty at an interest meeting last week.

In addition to hives, the project will include a garden nearby that will provide forage for the bees according to Fuller. This doesn’t mean the bees will stay close by their hive at all times though. Fuller explained that they will travel throughout campus and the local surrounding neighborhoods.

“The amount of things we can do in terms of teaching are huge,” Fuller said of the benefits for BC. The hives will be an “opportunity to talk to our students about the importance of pollination for our food production, for food systems, for our economy.”

Fuller also mentioned that the hives could be an education tool about the problems these important pollinators face. The health of bees throughout the world has been declining in past years. They are vital to the world ecosystems and in sustaining human food consumption but declining numbers could pose a threat to international food security. Greenpeace has a page devoted to the conservation of bee populations and stated that “U.S. National Agricultural Statistics show a honey bee decline from about 6 million hives in 1947 to 2.4 million hives in 2008, a 60 percent reduction.”

While the causes of bee population decline seem to include a variety of different reasons, two that Fuller mentioned are the use of pesticides and pests such as mites. The bees at BC will be closely monitored through mite counts and extensive record keeping of the hive’s vital signs.

Having five hives of bees on campus won’t make much of an impact at all on overall world bee health, but will be a tool through which awareness can be raised.

Students who want to provide habitat for local pollinators at home could focus on growing native plants in their yards and communities.

Once the hives arrive, work parties will take place every Friday as well as alternating days throughout the week to increase the opportunity for anyone who is interested to participate.
Students wanting to get more information can do so at the BC Beekeeping Facebook page.