The dwindling of honeybees in the recent years has caused a stir in the American public.
A major cause of the population decline of the honeybee is caused by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) where large colonies of honeybees are disappearing in large numbers. Since these bees die while out collecting nectar instead of inside the hive, the exact cause of their death remains ambiguous, though the main hypothesis is thought to be because of pesticide use.
Winner of the Presidential Green Grant Emily Monac ’18 brought bees to Union campus to take part in the efforts to revive the honeybee population. Monac, along with Allie Novak ’17, spent the spring and summer preparing the hives, transporting the bees to campus and monitoring the hives for stable growth.
This past term, Novak and a select few persons on campus (William Kiernan ’17, Will Fisher ’19, and others) have begun the 12 hour process to extract, jar and sell the honey around campus.
Monac and Novak seek to educate the campus community about the importance of honeybee population and the significance of their decline.
For one of the display cases in Wold Center, Monac designed a scene to raise awareness about the movement. Events such as a honey exraction party have been hosted to futher educate the campus community.
This coming winter, Monac and Novak hope to establish a Union Beekeeping Club to involve more interested and dedicated campus members.
Novak, Kiernan and Sammy Kleinberg ’16 installed insulators around the hives to protect them from the colder winter months.
The team found that there were very few live bees left in the hives. While there were some bees at the base of the hive, the number of dead bees did not add up to the number of live bees they estimated several weeks ago.
The unanticipated deaths were likely caused either by devastation by an early frost or a CCD-similar situation.
This coming winter, Monac and Novak hope to use the profits from the honey sales to purchase more bees for the spring season.
This setback has not broken their spirits in conservation of the honeybee population.
If successful, they hope to one day use and sell the honey collected from the Union bees on campus, and possibly extract and sell beeswax.