What Do We Do?
By Emma Reed
Our bees produce a variety of products on Champlain’s campus: honey, wax, pollen, and propolis. The honey produced by our bees is bottled and marketed by Champlain students. It’s never heated, fine-filtered, or processed in any way. The honey is spun from the comb, poured into jars, and is as close to the hive as liquid honey gets!
We also provide a unique opportunity for students, especially those in business and marketing majors, to craft a beneficial experience from the apiary. The Environmental Policy class at Champlain uses the apiary to study the economy and environment; the Concepts of Community classes look at bees as individuals and the hive mind as a whole; and the Bodies courses look at it in terms of reproduction.
All proceeds from honey sales are used to benefit the educational mission and material support of the apiary.
Why Start An Apiary?
While getting her PhD, Professor Kristin Wolf had a mentor who was very involved with a bee program. Wolf liked the idea of “experiential learning” and having a “living laboratory” and wanted to bring it to Champlain.
The apiary aims to bring students, faculty, and the community to the bees and help them better understand their role in the community, and on a larger scale, the world. The apiary acts as an example of a self-sustaining business that marketing and business students can look to.
The Champlain College Apiary provides experiential learning opportunities for Champlain students and community members and supports the College’s commitment to sustainability by housing honey bees on campus. The hives support the surrounding ecosystem and gives students the opportunity to interact with an organism that humans are highly dependent on, but often avoid.
Is the Apiary at Full Potential?
The short answer is no. The apiary is looking for a larger team of students to help with PR and raise awareness about the apiary and bees.
Bee populations are declining, and with that we see a loss of crops, meadows, and wildflowers. Without bees, 1/3 of the world’s food supply will disappear, flowering plants will cease to exist, and we’ll be left with a desolate landscape.
How Can I Help?
It’s as simple as being more aware of the issues. Visit the apiary and read our previous posts to learn more about the impact bees have on society. Cut down on “greenscaping” and avoid growing a lawn with no ecosystem. Advocate for changes in public policy. It’s a collective effort, but together, we can help the bees accomplish their role in our society.
How Are the Bees Doing?
The bees are doing splendidly! Kristin Wolf said that because it’s been such a warm winter, they haven’t run into any issues and all the bees should make it to the spring. They haven’t eaten through their food supply yet so there should be no food shortages. Kristin even made something called “bee candy” that she put out as insurance – so that’s pretty cool.
While the bees won’t have many problems in spring, the upcoming fall may be difficult for them. The warm winter hasn’t allowed any diseases to die down so the bees will be more at risk going from the warm weather into a harsh winter. Fingers crossed for the bees at Champlain College’s apiary!
Special thanks to the Class of 2013 for making the apiary a possibility.
This posting is part of the series of blog posts from our student-run Champlain College Publishing Initiative. Look for these and others as we bee-come more aware of our flying friends.