College of DuPage Brings Honeybees to Campus Natural Area
By Brian Kleemann
College of DuPage is buzzing about its new residents on campus.
Thanks to a grant from the Honeybee Conservancy, COD has installed a beehive in a natural area on the east side of campus. A partnership with Kline Creek Farm has provided the expertise and training for staff to maintain the beehive, which will not only benefit the surrounding natural areas with needed pollination but also function as a learning lab for students and visitors.
“The honeybee decline is an environmental problem that most people don’t know about,” said David Taylor, Instructor of Biology at College of DuPage. “We already bring classes to study our on-campus prairie reserves, and we hope the beehive adds to in-class discussions on pollination.”
Click here for photos of the beehive on campus.
According to the Honeybee Conservancy, 50 percent of Midwestern native bee species have disappeared over the last century. A study by the USDA and a partnership of bee groups found that 42 percent of managed honeybee colonies died between April 2014 and April 2015, the second-highest rate in nine years. This die-off threatens $15 billion worth of crops that require bee pollination.
Through its Sponsor-A-Hive program, the Honeybee Conservancy offers materials grants that consist of bees, their homes, beekeeping equipment and information on how to care for them. Hives are to be placed in locations that can bolster bee populations, advance science and environmental education, and pollinate locally grown food.
Because the College of DuPage campus in Glen Ellyn contains more than 40 acres of prairie and natural areas, Taylor, Biology Professor Shamili Ajgaonkar and Outdoor Lab/Prairie Manager Remic Ensweiler thought a beehive would be an ideal addition. In May, COD received more than 3,000 bees and the hive, which is now located in the nature area east of the McAninch Arts Center. The hive provides the substrate where the bees will build their honeycombs, which they start within a few days of the hive being installed.
Ajgaonkar said the College received another grant that is being used to build and install a second beehive on campus near the first one.
“In researching bees, we discovered that it was better to have two hive and colonies,” she said. “From an educational standpoint, each colony will have its own distinct characteristics.”
Taylor said the first year of activity surrounds the establishment of the hive. After that, classes can identify and implement pollination projects.
“The potential is huge, from future lectures to hands-on activities,” he said. “The campus also benefits because our native plants will be pollinated by our own bees. And we haven’t even discussed what to do with the honey, which could draw other programs into this initiative.”
College of DuPage is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 28,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants nine associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.
Caption: Beekeeper Jana Kinsman transfers thousands of honeybees from a temporary container to their new beehive on campus in Glen Ellyn. (Photo by Press Photography Network/Special to College of DuPage)
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