SUPERIOR, WI– There’s a buzz around campus at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
More than half-a-million honey bees fly freely around grounds near an apiary outside the science building. That’s where two beekeeping programs have partnered for education, research, and community service initiatives to recognize the importance and vast potential of honey bees.
On the campus of UWS, you’ll find a community of bees and beekeepers.
“Honey bees are in jeopardy right now,” says Dr. Edward Burkett, a Professor of Biology on campus.
The keepers and researchers both sharing a common goal. President of the Head of the Lakes Beekeeping Association, Jami Koivisto says, “as a beekeeper, you are trying to save the population because every year about 50% of the United States bee population dies.”
In 2016, Professor Burkett also called “Dr. B” created an apiary for education, research, and outreach, ultimately forming the Urban Honey Bee Project which is a program at UWS. An apiary is a place where bees are kept with a collection of hives.
Dr. B says, “honey bees play a major role both from an agricultural point of view and in an economic point of view both in the United States and the world as a whole.”
Just this spring, the university partnered with the Head of the Lakes Beekeeping Association to double down efforts to help protect the bees. The campus allows the association a place to gather and do research.
“[We have] a very knowledgeable and helpful group of people in order to help each other with beekeeping, and also to educate the public on beekeeping, and encourage others to be involved with beekeeping,” says Koivisto.
Honey bees play a critical role when it comes to pollination. Burkett says.”right now if I were to snap my fingers and every honeybee in the world were to disappear, about one-third of the worlds food supply would go with it.”
So how can the community help preserve the honey bee? One of the biggest things is reducing the use of chemicals that have a negative impact on bees such as pesticides or insecticides. And also by planting and providing a bee-friendly landscape in your yard.
“For the person who likes to garden, planting the bee-friendly flowers, specifically that honeybees will utilize can dramatically increase their survivorship.”
Honey bees have short tounges so they prefer cone or flat flowers such as daisies and dandelions.
The beekeepers harvest around 900 pounds of honey a season from the hives but are sure to leave at least 90 pounds still in each hive so the bees can survive the winter.
Members of the Urban Honey Bee Project sells the jars of honey on campus to help pay to keep the apiary in good shape.
The Head of the Great Lakes Beekeeping Association holds a monthly meeting on campus. Anyone is welcome to attend to learn more about the art and importance of beekeeping.