Thanks to the efforts of faculty, staff, and the student beekeepers in the campus garden, Washington College has been designated as Maryland’s first Bee Campus USA and only the 35th in the country.
Washington College has become the first higher-education institution in Maryland and the 35th in the nation to be designated an affiliate of Bee Campus USA, a program designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators.
“Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of ninety percent of the world’s wild plant and tree species. Washington College is a stellar example of the influence educational institutions can have on their students and the broader community,” said Bee Campus USA Director Phyllis Stiles upon announcing WC’s affiliation. “Their talented faculty, staff, and students offer an invaluable resource for Eastern Shore residents in seeking ways to manage ornamental landscapes in more wildlife-friendly ways.”
“By studying and supporting pollinators, students are working to realign our culture with natural forces and enhance life on this planet,” said campus garden adviser Shane Brill ’03 M’11, who three years ago helped students install an apiary in the campus garden. “They can trace the path of a bee’s flight back to the energy of the sun and, in the course of that journey, reimagine our place in the world.”
Through a Beekeeping 101 course hosted each spring by the Department of Environmental Science and Studies, students examine bee anatomy, nutrition and colony behavior, and how to establish a hive. They become empowered in the role of “bee ambassadors” for the public, and they volunteer their apicultural skills in the community with the Upper Eastern Shore Beekeeping Association.
In the campus garden, students are hands-on learning not only the mechanics of beekeeping, but also the interconnected relationships between the campus bees and the plants and flowers that sustain them–and which they also sustain—in and near the garden. Last fall, for the first time, students harvested their own honey, collecting about two gallons. And, they’ve participated in pollinator workshops with local community members to further educate people about the vital roles that pollinators play in agriculture, permaculture, and plant and human health.
Beyond maintaining the campus apiary, students involved in the campus garden program implement conservation landscapes that ensure thriving populations of pollinators in a local, resilient food system. They share their research on the college website with a growing inventory of useful plants they cultivate on campus.
In its designation as a Bee Campus, Washington College has committed to minimizing hazards to pollinators by using no neonicotinoid pesticides, and almost no glyphosate herbicide or other potentially dangerous synthetic pesticides. According to Stiles, each certified campus must reapply each year and report on accomplishments from the previous year.
About Bee Campus USA and Bee City USA
The Bee Campus USA designation recognizes educational campuses that commit to a set of practices that support pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, among thousands of other species. For more information about the application process for becoming a Bee Campus USA affiliate, visit http://www.beecityusa.org/application-campus.html.
Bee City USA® urges local governments, individuals, organizations, corporations, and communities to promote and establish pollinator–friendly landscapes that are free of pesticides. Since its inception in Asheville, North Carolina in 2012, many cities have been certified across the nation and many others are in the process of preparing applications. For more information about the application process for becoming a Bee City USA community, visit http://www.beecityusa.org/application-city.html.