University of Richmond now buzzing with bees

(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two honeybee hives have been installed on the University of Richmond campus to provide sustainability resources and research opportunities. The hives are located between the Wilton Center by Cannon Memorial Chapel and the steam plant. This initiative is sponsored by the university’s Department of Biology, Office of Sustainability, Dining Services and School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

There is currently a worldwide shortage of honeybees due to a phenomenon known as the Colony Collapse Disorder. This has the potential to affect local and global food systems. According to Biology Laboratories Manager Kirstin Berben, “Maintaining working productive hives at [the university] will allow students to observe and work with a living laboratory, which will demonstrate the interconnected roles of individual species in our local ecosystem.” Berben says that students will be able to research hive behavior and how environmental conditions affect the honeybees.

Biology and environmental studies students will maintain a pollinator garden with apple and peach trees as well as shrubs that will attract bees and butterflies.

Sustainability director Rob Andrejewski said, “We want to rethink the way we engage our students with these issues and encourage them to develop solutions that we can then pilot. There is a level of awareness and critical thinking that goes into it that helps students steward our land, which leads to the thriving of plants and animals.”

Leader of Richmond’s writing center Joe Essid will serve along with Berben as beekeepers. Essid has been keeping bees for 16 years and practices sustainable living on his Goochland County property. He says it’s important for institutions like the University of Richmond to become a model for other organizations, because of the critical shortage of honeybees worldwide. “The more community

“The more community hives we have and the more exposure people have to honeybees, the more aware they’ll be about what each of us can do in our own backyards,” Essid said. “After all, a third of our food comes from the help of honeybees.”

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