honeybee crisis, colony collapse, honeybees, agriculture, yale

For Yale University, Founder’s Day is a day to commemorate centuries of its history, and it was recently established in 2014. This year, along with the usual accoutrements, however, the university is launching the Yale Sustainability Plan of 2025. Cracking down on sustainability and renewable resources, Yale’s beekeepers have begun the task of making the campus greener, which is admittedly a daunting task, and building a committed activist movement at Yale. This plan represents, according to officials, the “university of tomorrow,” and it revealed a spot on campus where a “bee space” is being implemented.

Located at the Yale Landscape Lab on West Campus, the “Bee Space” is Yale’s only hub dedicated to undergraduates who want to learn beekeeping as a hobby. What once started out as a small project focused on beekeeping for exploring processes of engineering and design has now turned into a greater one as more and more people become interested in it.

“It was a Netflix documentary called ‘More than Honey,’” Elise Gubbins, the now Bee Space president, said in regard to what brought her to want to work with the hives in Bee Space. The film portrays the intelligence of bees as well as their complexity, and that’s what she says captured her attention and held it. Gubbins first engaged with Bee Space by subscribing to an email outreach list as many students do. This email list now has over 100 subscribers, but she is only one of the few who actually visit the hives on a regular basis.

Noah Macey is one of those who subscribes to the list, though he does not make it out to the hives as much as he would like. He is an apiculture enthusiast and arrived at Yale with extensive experience. Macey was only seven years old when his experiences with bees began, so his lack of visiting the hives merely has to do with the inconvenience of travelling to West Campus. At the very least, his involvement showcases the natural appeal Bee Space can have to bee enthusiasts and those with mild curiosity on the subject.

As the biodiversity of honeybees has become more threatened, our agricultural system is threatened now as well. With the increase of bee deaths and many species being endangered, beekeeping is more important than ever. This is why many apiarists are pursuing beekeeping. On that point, Macey said, “There’s an expression in the beekeeping community: if you ask ten beekeepers the same question, you’ll get eleven answers.” Yale’s bee-hobbyists can agree on one point, however—we have to care for honeybees because they need us as much now as we’ve always needed them.

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