Students, faculty, staff and alumni have worked together to install several new beehives in the Bellarmine Farm behind Allen Hall.
The hives are meant to increase biodiversity on campus, while also providing research and experiential learning opportunities for students.
“Bees play such a critical role in our ecosystem, this a great opportunity for students to see that first-hand,” said Dr. Jessica Hume, Assistant Professor of Health Services at Bellarmine.
The initiative began last year when Hanah Carter, an Environmental Science major who has worked with beehives as a volunteer naturalist at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, approached Bellarmine’s Department of Environmental Studies about the possibility of bees on campus.
The department helped her establish a Beekeeping Club, which quickly gained momentum. The club now has about 100 students signed up with several dozen
students regularly involved. There are more than 20 staff, faculty and alumni who also participate, lending expertise and resources.
Dr. Andrew Stone Porter, Assistant Professor of Theology, serves as co-advisor for the club, as he gained beekeeping experience in South America through his time in the Peace Corps.
The beekeeping club built and installed boxes for the hives in a fenced-in area amid the farm’s fruit trees, where the bees will have favorable amounts of sun and shade.
Dr. Hume’s family owns Beckham’s Bell Farms, an apiary in Anderson County. She donated and helped install a “nuc,” which consists of several
established frames of bee brood, honey and a queen. Bellarmine alumni Brooke Gibbons (‘17 CJS) and Cody Gibbons (‘17 ENVS) operate the Gibbons Family Farm in Larue County. They donated a second nuc.
Bulinski said it was important to start at least two hives to increase chances of successfully establishing beekeeping on campus.
“Even under perfect conditions, you can lose one,” she said.
In addition to establishing the new hives, the Beekeeping club has worked on numerous other biodiversity enhancement efforts this year, including:
- Installing a new pollinator garden on campus
- Volunteering with the Olmsted Park Conservancy to remove invasive species behind Bellarmine’s Our Lady of the Woods Chapel
- Volunteering at the campus farm
- Making native seed cards with recycled paper
- Crafting bee-themed reusable tote bags
- Hosting a booth at Locust Grove Gardener’s Fair
- Giving several community presentations on aspects of beekeeping
Savannah Bloom, an English major who is interested in environmental studies and nature writing, said she’s loved being involved in the Beekeeping Club. She came out to watch the new nuc being installed, despite the summer afternoon heat.
“I wanted to learn more,” she said. “I’m interested in protecting earth’s natural resources and beauty. Bees are a part of that.”
Click here to see more photos from the installation of the new hives on campus.