“Bee” Conscious: Bees on Campus

It’s finally spring again! A lot of things are back: shorts, flip-flops, and most importantly, bees! If bees sound irrelevant to you at this point, please keep reading this article. Bees are fundamental to our lives. Not only do they produce honey (what most of us are aware of), they also pollinate about one sixth of the flowering plant species worldwide and approximately 400 different agricultural plants. A few examples of the foods that would no longer be available to us if bees ceased pollinating our agricultural goods are broccoli, asparagus, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, watermelons, almonds, apples, cherries and etc. That being said, no twenty-first century innovation can replace bees in terms of their diligence and the biodiversity that they nourish. However, a strange phenomenon called “Colony Collapse Disorder” has swiped across the world in the past few years, suddenly causing bees to vanish. The cause of bees’ mass death still remain a myth – some suggest global warming while others view such trend as a prodigy. Nevertheless, it is crucial for us to recognize such happening. Thanks to juniors John Cox and Taseen Anwar, and Mrs. Gratia Lee, we will be able to obtain first hand information about this endangered species, right here on the island. John and Taseen have launched a brand-new apiary project this spring through the Gilchrist Environmental fellowship. Cooperating with Jack Grimshaw, a local beekeeper from Enfield, Connecticut, John and Taseen utilized the spare field on Chamberlain Hill behind the hockey rink as the foundation for their project. In order to construct a suitable home for the honeybees, they purchased box-like frame hives made of black plastic and placed them on top of each other in groups of five. As of this month, they successfully accommodate up to an estimate of several hundreds of honeybees in two separate colonies, and we can expect the number of bees to grow exponentially as the queen bees rapidly reproduce and the blooming season approaches. The project is still at its developing phase – we have to feed them 150 pounds of sugar water over the summer to ensure their survival and adaptability to their new home. We will soon be able to collect fresh Loomis-produced honey; students can possibly purchase them in the bookstore and even expect them to be served in the dining hall. We advocate and cherish sustainability in Loomis – greenhouse, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and many more plans in progress. The honeybees will greatly benefit our agriculture program (apple trees, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries; zucchini, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash), and the aesthetics in campus (their pollination radius of two miles will cover the entire campus). Furthermore, as a docile species and with their hives stationed distant from the main campus, honeybees will not pose a threat to Loomis students. If you would like to check out our new guests, feel free to approach John, Taseen, Mrs. Lee, or Mr. Pete Gwyn, and they will be more than happy to give you a glimpse of this amazing project!