It seems like students will not be(e) the only ones abuzz in their fall activities. As of last month, Boston College is welcoming a new group of fuzzy, black and yellow friends. Some call them cute, others shoo them away, and a few are allergic. They are, of course, pollinating honey bees.
In case you haven’t seen the Bee Movie (2007), the amount of work that bees do may not be apparent. Humorously, Barry (Jerry Seinfeld) asked on his first day of work: “So you’ll just work us to death?”
But beyond the humor and entertainment of the DreamWorks-animated movie, there is much to be said about the important role that bees play in our environment and what we as individuals can do to help promote their viability. It just so happens that BC is greatly contributing to a movement that does just that.
It may not be noticeable on your trek to Business Stats in Fulton, but dwelling on the roof of the CSOM building is an urban beehive, home to some 10-15,000 bees.
The recent installation last month was made possible thanks to a generous donation from BC parents Fred and Donna Seigel. Beacon Capital Partners, of which Fred Seigel is COO, is collaborating with Best Bees Company to promote a national beekeeping program that installs urban beehives on property rooftops. This new initiative will help raise awareness about the abating bee (and beehive) population, highlighting BC’s interest and concern for an important environmental issue.
In a recent article published by BC News & Public Affairs, Office of Sustainability Director Robert Pion explained, “There has been a lot of concern about the world’s bee population, and the number of beehives dying out. We felt that hosting a beehive would be a symbol of BC’s concern for the environment.”
According to the Beacon Capital Company, urban beehives interestingly produce more honey than suburban ones due to the fact that there are fewer predators and pesticides present. Moreover, bees pollinate over 130 crops. Thus, disrupting this pollination process (caused by the diminishing bee population) can negatively impact the food supply that we and other organisms depend on.
People often misunderstand—or simply don’t know—how unexpectedly vital bees are in our environment. In addition to the environmental advantage of promoting pollination–which will keep the much-appreciated aesthetic of BC’s flowering plants abloom–the outcome of honey is another benefit to the community.
With a beekeeper’s monthly check on the beehives, Beacon Capital estimates that each hive will yield 30 pounds of honey per year. Who knows, we might be seeing our local, BC-harvested honey in Mac or Lower Dining this fall.
There is also potential for the installation to serve as a useful academic resource in studying environmental sustainability, depending on the successful development of the hives.
People may fret about the prospects of getting stung or savor the sweet, gooey honey bees produce, but seldom do we focus on why their existence and procreation are so important. BC’s new urban hive is a simple yet progressive response toward preserving and protecting the diminishing bee population, an effort that sets an example for other universities, institutions and companies alike to make a difference.
So the next time you make your way to Fulton, or are sitting in class, don’t forget the 10-15,000 bees buzzing above you.