By Stephaney Wilson
Elm Staff Writer
What is all the buzz with beekeeping? In recent news, Washington College has become the first Bee Campus USA in Maryland. Bee Campus USA is a program that raises awareness on the role that pollinators play in our community and what each of us can do to provide them a healthy habitat.
The beekeeping initiative at WC is a very important step to saving these small pollinators that make a huge impact on our environment. This initiative will make our campus more eco-friendly and provide students the ability to learn more about the role bees play in food sustainability.
According to the Sustain Alliance, “Globally there are more honey bees than other types of bee and pollinating insects, so it is the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. It is estimated that one third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees.”
WC’s environmental community is going a step further with this new initiative to protect this critical species.
Shane Brill, adviser of the Garden Club that started the Beekeeping program on campus, explains the impact of the program on WC’s environmental community.
He said, “Beekeeping not only reinforces WC’s position as a leader in the multidisciplinary study of the environment. It inspires individuals to look closer at the world and consider how we can align our daily activities with natural forces to improve ecosystem health in our bioregion.”
I had never thought about how truly wonderful these small insects are, and how our campus is now seen as a leader for the environment. By having this program, we are promoting awareness of an organism that is slowly in decline. Often, we do not think of these small creatures that fly from flower to flower as being so important to what grows around us.
Despite all the benefits that bees can provide for the WC community and beyond, there have still been some hardships with keeping the program afloat. Junior Julia Portman, the vice president of the Garden Club, works closely with the bees and explains the initial challenges last semester with keeping the beehives alive.
She said, “In the fall or over the winter they got infested by a type of mite. Bees everywhere get them; it’s one of the things killing them. But it’s not really anything we can control for.”
I am glad that even with the challenge of the bees dying, the initiative was able to come through in the end. I have never been one to like bees because of the stinging and the buzzing. Since this initiative has erupted, I have had no problem with putting my differences with bees aside.
Portman said, “It is also really important for our College’s image as a whole. It shows we are promoting, we are aware of these issues that are happening such as the bees dying and were taking steps to mitigate that and to help with that.”
WC has become a lot greener, and I am pretty sure the campus will be a lot more colorful once the weather warms up. The beekeeping initiative is an important program for the campus to help “save the bees.” The plants and the food around us could not survive without the bees.
If you want to get involved and support bee-keeping on campus, apply for the beekeeping course offered each spring through the environmental department, or contact Brill to purchase a half-pint of honey for $10.