Appalachian State University students help bees in decline
BOONE, N.C. - The “Save the Bees” movement has sparked the desire for many to learn more about how to help bees in decline and raise awareness about the issue, including students at Appalachian. Katie Payne and Hallie Graves, May ’18 Sustainable Development graduates, founded the Beekeeping Club in 2016 and brought the Bee Campus USA initiative to campus. “I wanted to leave behind something on campus, and also offer an educational component,” said Payne. Graves agrees, adding “The more I researched and learned about bees, the more I fell in love with them. We depend so heavily on them, and the role they play is huge. Education about their role is so important.”
Bee Campus USA is a nationally recognized certification that approves Appalachian State University as a safe campus for pollinators. It is an annual certification affirming that Appalachian agrees to host pollinator workshops, awareness events, and utilize a committee for spreading awareness about bees. The certification also ensures that no bee-harming pesticides are used on campus, and that a publicized list of pollinator plants on campus is made available.
Students and staff at Appalachian worked at obtaining this certification for about a year, and the campus is now officially a “Bee Campus.” The Bee Campus USA certification was approved and signed by Chancellor Sheri Everts earlier this year. Recognition only lasts one year, but thanks to hard work on the part of the Beekeeping Club and the Physical Plant, all the pieces are now in place to make it a simple renewal process.
“Bee Campus USA makes efforts to raise awareness around bees in the community,” said Payne. “We provide a set number of workshops and hands on experiences each year.” The duo plan to merge the Beekeeping Club and Bee Campus USA initiatives to help spread awareness, promote community involvement, and provide continuity for the program. “Bee Campus USA essentially gives structure and guidelines for the Beekeeping Club and the types of things they do,” said Payne.
The certification stresses the importance of providing environments and areas where bees can thrive on campus. There are bee hives located in the Living Learning Center garden, on top of Central Dining Hall, and in Appalachian Roots Garden. The Roots Garden serves as the “home hive” for Bee Campus USA and the Beekeeping Club, and the majority of workshops and activities take place there.
Although Appalachian is now officially certified as a Bee Campus, there is still room for improvement. “We are still in the process of eliminating all pesticides on campus,” said Graves. Education about pesticides, habitats, and pollinator behavior is a major component of the Bee Campus USA initiative, as it is difficult to help bees without knowing how. “The easiest thing to do to help bees in decline is to support local beekeepers. Buying honey at your local farmers market helps support both the local economy and the bees,” Graves said. “When purchasing honey, pay attention to where it comes from,” adds Payne. “Location is key when determining if it is actually supporting bees or harming them, and what quality of product you are buying.”
An easy, beautiful way to help bees is to have a diverse yard or porch filled with local flowers and plants that promote pollinators. Lavender, sunflowers, mint, and snapdragons are just a few examples. Another way to help bees is to pick up the hobby of beekeeping! Educating yourself and others about beekeeping is one of the best ways to get involved and make a difference.
Appalachian State University’s Office of Sustainability is located on the ground level of East Hall at 175 Locust Street, Boone N.C. 28608. The Office of Sustainability is a proud supporter of Bee Campus and the Beekeeping Club. Contact the office by phone at (828) 262-2659 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.