Student beekeeping club works to bring bees to campus

Ally Mauch, Reporter

Though many people fear the idea of bees, some Northwestern students are trying to bring more to campus.

Bees for a Sustainable World, part of Engineers for a Sustainable World, is currently working with the University to bring beehives to campus before the end of the quarter, said Jared Colin, a member of the group. The group aims to change the public perception of bees, the McCormick freshman said.

“(Bees) make people uncomfortable, and they scare people even though they are harmless,” Colin said.

The club, founded by a group of now-sophomores in ESW, began in June 2016 and now has about 70 members, said McCormick sophomore Garrett Hiser, a founding member. Since then, BeeSW has been trying to get bees and begin beekeeping.

“Our goal is essentially just to get bees on campus,” Hiser said. “We think it would be really cool because it shows this effort to be more sustainable.”

Keith Emert, a McCormick sophomore and founding BeeSW member, said his involvement with beehives is helping him do his part for sustainability. Emert said he is excited about the potential of leaving a lasting legacy at NU through the start of the beekeeping project.

Colin said bees are essential to the ecosystem, as they pollinate most crops and plants. According to the National Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants and 30 percent of the world’s food crops depend on pollination by bees and other animals, such as bats and birds. Without bees, all of that goes away, which is a “pretty terrifying thought,” Colin said.

“It’s a really good symbol of sustainability for Northwestern and a sign of student involvement,” Emert said.

BeeSW has plans to order bees within the next few weeks, Hiser said, but is currently awaiting approval from the University.

Hiser said the group’s biggest challenge now is finding a place to put the hives. The group has funding and support for the bees and their upkeep, but is working with NU facilities management to find a place suitable for beekeeping, he said.

Colin, who kept bees all throughout high school, said many urban beekeepers keep their hives on roofs to keep the bees in a safe place away from the public. The group is currently looking at the roof of Technological Institute as a good place for the beehives, he said, because it has space for future expansion and would be removed from the general student body.

“Our next step is finding a place to put them that is not only out of everyone’s way, but that only the people in the beekeeping club have access to and that will be safe,” Colin said.

Colin said another aspect of BeeSW is raising awareness about bees and removing “harmless” honeybees from being associated with wasps and hornets. He said bees on campus would help combat this public perception.

Hiser said bringing bees to campus would be important for sustainability efforts. The beehives would boost the number of bees that are active in the ecosystem, he said.

Colin said the group is looking to start with possibly one hive, or a few thousand bees.

“One hive isn’t going to change the world, but it is doing our part,” Colin said. “It’s getting the ball moving and starting that initiative.”

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