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Two Classes Work Together to Cultivate the “Perfect” Bee Garden

Two classes from Purdue University have teamed up in order to find the best living environment for honeybees in their local area. As explained in an article posted on PurdueExponent.org, students from “Bee Biology and Bee Keeping” and “Planting Design II” classes are working together this semester to determine and design the best possible garden in which honeybees can thrive. The students’ presentation is featured at the Krach Leadership Center and is titled “Come Swarm with Us.”

“What (the other class was) interested in was creating a bee garden out at the bee farm to help (the bees) get more access to native flowers and stuff that the bees can use to pollinate honey,” said Courtney Nix, senior in the College of Agriculture who worked on the project. “So our classes kind of combined so that we could give them help with their projects and they could help with ours.” The students looked at many different aspects when planning the best garden for the honeybees.

“We’ve looked at different problems associated with bees,” Nix said. “Our group was bee nutrition, one was bee health, another was bee habitat. So we looked at a bunch of different aspects that together help define what a good garden would be like for bees in the area. It’s been a lot of fun.” According to Jasmine Peele, also a senior in the College of Agriculture, explained that something as simple as the right flowers in the area can tremendously help bees thrive and produce honey as they are supposed to.

“Clover is definitely a big thing,” said Peele. “Everyone sees clover as a weed so they are getting rid of it, but clover is actually one of the most important species of plant for honey bees specifically. It’s because it is so abundant, and honey bees are short-tongued bees and they can’t reach the bottom (of larger flowers) where the nectar is, which is why they need the small, short flowers like clover.” The students found that not only the size of the flower but the time span in which is blooms also plays a large role.

The hands-on experience was what really impressed Nix about the class and the honeybee project. “I was terrified of bees before this class,” Nix said. “For the bee farm, we would go out and suit up and actually handle them and everything. We would investigate hives and find the queens and look at broods and honey,” she explained. “There is a lot of hands-on stuff we did, which was really fun.”

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