Students from the Green Chemistry club and Students Organized for Sustainability are currently working to start Trinity Bee Alliance, a club aimed at supporting bees and their role in the environment. The club was proposed as a response to the increasing phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder, which is the sudden unexplained death of entire colonies of bees.
Junior Lauren Davis, a biology major and member of both the Green Chemistry club and Students Organized for Sustainability, is one of the students heading the proposed alliance.
“Initially, I heard about CCD and was really concerned that it was happening, and so the more I heard about it, the more I came to understand how bees are important to the ecosystem,” Davis said.
Honeybees play an important role in the ecosystem because they pollinate a significant portion of the agricultural crops consumed by humans. They also provide products, such as honey and wax, that people use in everyday life.
“Without bees, we would have a major failure in our agricultural system, which would be devastating,” Davis said.
Laura Prentice, a senior majoring in religion and environmental studies and a member of Students Organized for Sustainability, is another main force behind the Trinity Bee Alliance. She first gained interest in beekeeping after working on a farm in Kentucky.
“It’s a really beautiful hobby. I gained a lot of respect for bees,” Prentice said.
She also worries about the repercussions of CCD on the environment.
“Bees are a “˜canary in a coal mine’ for earth. When they’re gone, that’s it for a lot of different species,” Prentice said.
Currently, the club planners are working on getting student interest and community support.
“We want to have it be a totally student-run group that tends to bees that are on campus and, at some point in the year, harvest their honey,” Prentice said.
Members of the Trinity Bee Alliance would check the hives regularly, make sure the bees are healthy and have planned social gatherings.
Some of the problems anticipated by the club include negative reactions from students due to fear of bees and discomfort with them being brought to campus. However, the club planners to decrease the stigma surrounding bees.
“We want to bring about awareness of how important bees are. We want to de-stigmatize them so people won’t be afraid of them,” Davis said.
Prentice pointed out that, despite their reputation, bees pose virtually no harm to humans unless provoked in some way.
“They really have no interest in harming you. They’re pretty docile, actually,” Prentice said.
Richard Reed, professor of sociology and anthropology, is one of the faculty members supporting the proposed Trinity Bee Alliance.
“Really, what we’re trying to do is build ideas of environmental action and sustainability into campus life and students’ lives, so the bees are something students are doing that becomes part of their lives at Trinity,” Reed said.
Another goal for the club is for Trinity professors to benefit from the bees by using them as an educational tool.
“I think it would be cool to help utilize these bees in research, mainly in the biology department. Professors could use the bees and incorporate them into the curriculum for observations,” Davis said. “The bees could also be a potential source of fundraising by selling honey harvested from the hives.”
Davis, Prentice and other students founding the club plan to take a class with Don Fraser, an experienced beekeeper, to learn all of the aspects of beekeeping. After the class has concluded, the students will put on a workshop for any Trinity students interested in joining the Trinity Bee Alliance.
Students interested in taking part in the Trinity Bee Alliance or attending the beekeeping class should contact the Green Chemistry club or Students Organized for Sustainability for more information about the bees or planned club activities.