By Darlene Paranoia
Highly Opinionated Woman
Anyone present on the Washington College campus in the fall of 2018 will recall the Great Smith Hall Bee Debacle — a week full of fear, confusion, and tiny bee carcasses. With its attic seized by a colony of bees, William Smith Hall went dark as classes were canceled and professors relocated.
Now, years following the removal of the bees, the College is faced with a great conundrum: is it time to re-bee Smith Hall?
The idea of bringing bees back to Smith seems unconventional, particularly to the members of the senior class still haunted by the buzzes of the Smith bee ghosts. Yet, many are beginning to understand the motives of the bees once thought to be malicious invaders.
Perhaps they were merely seeking education.
“Just because bees don’t talk, doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. Might they not also be inspired by the collective wisdom of our faculty?” Interim Director of Sustainability and Regenerative Living Shane Brill ’03 said.
The opportunity to study at one of the nation’s best small liberal arts colleges is not a privilege that should be exclusive to humans. Barring the bees from expanding their knowledge exhibits a species-based discrimination our community should be working to overcome. Inviting the bees back to Smith Hall may be the first step in righting historical wrongs.
In his last motion as Student Government Association Secretary of Academics, senior Kyle Rufo is serving as an advocate and intra-species liaison in the fight for beeducation.
“We in SGA support learning in all capacities, for all individuals,” Rufo said. “This basic right of academic access extends to all animals – especially the bees that were wrongfully removed from Smith Hall years ago. It is our desire to see the bees be able to participate in their studies once again.”
Plans are already being drafted to formally enroll the bees, including establishing a system in which the bees supply honey in lieu of a monetary tuition. While not entirely equivalent to the exorbitant amount of money human students pay each year, the honey supply will benefit all members of the community.
“A gravity-fed attic honey dispenser presents a much healthier option for between-class-snacking than anything packaged from a vending machine. Zero waste, beneficial enzymes, and a negative carbon footprint. Booyah,” Brill said.
Furthermore, the WC environmental community believes the return of the bees could teach us valuable lessons, allowing us the opportunity to reflect on the nature of human social structures and our relationship to our environment.
“Bees model how to conserve energy and present a compelling alternative to patriarchal power structures that undermine human and ecological health,” Brill said.
While the bees pursue their own education, we, too, can be learning from them. Collaboration between species in this fashion will in turn promote harmony with other facets of our ecosystem, strengthening our relationship with our landscape.
Those in opposition of the re-beeing voice concerns about class disruptions and unprovoked acts of bee violence. Such concerned individuals should rest assured that the returning bees are expected to adhere to a strict code of conduct regarding stinging and incessant buzzing, as negotiated by the Campus Garden bees, who have acted in partnership with SGA to ensure a smooth transition to a re-beed campus.
Moreover, students with bee allergies will be strongly encouraged to reconsider their area of study in favor of a major with more classes held in Toll or Cromwell, which will be designated Bee-Free Zones due to concerns with live lab specimens.
Ultimately, both human and bee members of the WC community can only benefit from the return of the Smith bees, many of whom have been eagerly awaiting such an opportunity for years. The re-beeing of Smith Hall would be a crucial step in promoting an equitable, accepting, ecologically harmonious environment at the College, and reinstate the delights of bee activity that have been sorely missed.
“Quite frankly, it’s about time someone brought the waggle dance back to campus,” Brill said.
Photo by Ansell Adams
Featured Photo Caption: WC freshman Barry Benson flees from a swarm of bees rushing to their morning classes.