Features

Beehives on Campus? You Better Bee-lieve it!

Eastern’s campus has many intriguing secrets, such as the Hainer lofts and the greenhouse behind Doane. Beehives are yet another to add to the list. Nestled off the scenic pond by Doane, the beehives serve as a focus of the Earth Keepers club and an enhancement to nature around campus.

Checking on mite and pest levels, frequent feeding and simply observing are included in the Earth Keeper’s task list of caring for the hives. “It’s really cool to see the life of a bee,” said Davin Sheaffer, head of the Earth Keepers and lead man on looking after the beehives. Sheaffer believes that bees are a lot like us in the way that they each have a task to make the hive function, similar to the way that what we do as individuals makes our society function.  Some bees go out and pollinate, while others help build the hive or care for the  new bees being born. Clearly, these creatures have a little more to them than being a little buzzing insect.

In order to learn more about Eastern’s bees, Davin and I  ventured out through the narrow, muddy path to the hives on the edge of the lake. After fending off a few pairs of angry nesting geese, we finally reached the hives.  While the bees were very calm, they often react in a more aggressive manner.  “You wouldn’t want someone opening your door on a chilly windy day,” Sheaffer noted during the walk.  After opening up the hives for the first time this year, Scheaffer was surprised to see that so many bees survived the winter.  It was fascinating to see the bees inside their home, eating, coming and going, and kicking back and relaxing in the hive.

Sheaffer’s and the Earth Keepers’ work is very important, not only for their own learning purposes, but for nature as well, as pollination is a necessity for plant growth. However, keeping a functional hive is becoming more difficult each year.  Studies note that Colony Collapse Disorder has affected over 30% of beekeepers hives in the past year. Unlike the natural causes of death in bees, such as  harsh winters, Colony Collapse Disorder is believed to be caused by pesticides that bees bring back to the hive via pollination methods. The pesticides are believed to cause neurological damage to bees, and once introduced to a hive, the chemicals can spread and eradicate an entire colony. Scientists are still looking to discover how to fix Colony Collapse Disorder in order to keep one of nature’s most essential creatures flourishing.

In the meantime, Scheaffer and the Earth Keepers are in the process of adding two more hives to their collection on campus. Now that spring is in full bloom, the hive’s bees will be seen buzzing about, pollinating the natural beauty around campus.

If you are interesting in helping out with the hives or simply taking a stroll to check them out, contact Davin Sheaffer at dsheaff1@eastern.edu

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