The Future is Beekeeping Becoming Beekeepers with Bee Important

BEE IMPORTANT: MISSION

Bee Important is a non-profit organization whose goal is to create more beekeepers. Bees are an important part of our everyday existence. Bee Important works with college campuses by organizing Beekeeping Clubs across the nation. The students involved with the on-campus organization learn the importance of bees and beekeeping, while becoming active beekeepers. They are to help maintain bee hives on their college campuses. After those students graduate, they will incorporate beekeeping into their lives, and encourage more people to become beekeepers.

The Importance of Beekeeping

When we think of honey bees, we initially associate them with honey. However, they contribute to so much more. One third of what we eat depends on pollination from honey bees. Honey bees alone provide 80% of pollination for vegetables, fruits, seeds, and flower crops (“Why are Honey Bees and Beekeeping Important.” 2008). But it doesn’t just stop there. They also pollinate crops fed to dairy and meat animals.

Our world would be very different if bees didn’t exist.

Here are just some of the foods pollinated by bees:

“Apples, Strawberries, Peaches, Pears, Blueberries, Pumpkin, Nectarines, Plums, Kiwi, Pomegranates, Okra, Onions, Cashews, Apricots, Avocadoes, Passion Fruit, Lima Beans, Green Beans, Cherries. Coffee, Lemons, Figs, Limes, Carrots, Palm oil, Cucumber. Hazelnut, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Coconut, Tangerines, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Peppers, Papaya, Eggplant, Raspberries, Black Eyed Peas, Tomatoes, Grapes, Vanilla” (Sarich, 2013).

The list goes on and on.

Honey bees helped us produce approximately $19 billion worth of agricultural crops in the US alone in 2010. Other pollinators include bats, moths, butterflies, hummingbirds, ants, and beetles. All of those pollinators together contributed an estimated $10 billion in 2010 (Tucker, 2014). So as you can see, we rely on pollination from bees to sustain our food system.

However, since 2006, over 40% of colonies in the United States have suffered Colony Collapse Disorder (Sarich, 2013).

Colony Collapse Disorder

“Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen” ("Colony Collapse Disorder," n.d.).

Back in 2006, beekeepers began to report high loses of 30-90% of their hives, which was unheard of. Half of the affected colonies had demonstrated symptoms inconsistent with previously reported causes of honey bee death ("Colony Collapse Disorder," n.d.). Beekeepers were reporting that they had a sudden loss of their worker bee populations, with very few dead bees found near the colony. However, the queen and brood remained.

So what’s the problem?

Bee hives cannot sustain themselves without the worker bees. Without the worker bees, the hives would die.

CCD is a huge concern for the agricultural industry. The agricultural industry relies on bees to pollinate crops.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that researchers focused on solving the mystery behind CCD are focuses on these factors:

  • "Increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honey bees).
  • New or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the guy parasite Nosema.
  • Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control.
  • Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services.
  • Changes to the habitat where bees forage.
  • Inadequate forage/poor nutrition.
  • Potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors identified above” ("Colony Collapse Disorder," n.d.).

The US Agriculture Department’s latest numbers on honey bee mortality estimate that between April 2014 and April 2015, 42% of the US honey bee colonies have died, compared to 34% the year prior. Since the 1940s, the number of colonies that are maintained by beekeepers has decreased from 5 million to 2.4 million today (Braun, 2016).

A world without bees impacts our food supply. We have to help manage this crisis.

What can you do?

You can control pesticide use. You can create a garden or a space for pollination to occur. And you can become a beekeeper and help maintain a healthy colony.

The Practice of Beekeeping

In order to sustain our food intake, we need more beekeepers.

"Beehives require management and good stewardship, which take both time and knowledge" ("Beekeeping for Beginners," n.d).

By joining Bee Important on your college campus you will learn about bees, as well as how to practice beekeeping.

Bee Important will be an active club of education and participation. You will meet weekly to learn more about the importance of honey bees and how to maintain your hives.

Bee Important will provide:

  • Bees
  • Hive system- we use the Langstroth hive system
  • Beekeeping Starter Kit- hive tool, smoker, jacket with hat veil, gloves, bee brush, and books

Your job is to:

  • Introduce your bees to the hives
  • Keep your bees happy and healthy

We will determine how many hives your school will maintain based on the size of the school, as well as quantity of active members in the club.

Recruitment Video

Our Goals:

Beekeeping is a wonderful hobby to continue throughout your lifetime. And if we are going to help protect the bee population, we need every college participant to be lifelong beekeepers.

Once our club members graduate, we will provide every graduate with one beehive and their first bee colony free of charge.

We also hope that our Bee Important graduates will encourage their friends and family to become beekeepers. Our education program gives our graduates the tools they need to teach the practice of beekeeping. Pay it forward!

We will check in with our graduates every season to see how their hives are doing.

Bee Important Photo Gallery

Arizona State University
University of Connecticut
University of Alabama
Florida State University
University of Minnesota
American University

College Ambassador Testimonials

Donna Henderson, University of New Mexico

"Honey bees are dying at an alarming rate and they pollinate over 80% of the food we eat, so I wanted to help create a change and give back to the environment."

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Bryan Rogers and Stella Jones, West Virginia University

"We just wanted to give back locally. We love to garden, so it just made sense that we would have bees as well!"

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Jeremy Williams, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"When I open the top of a beehive, it's like reading a book. Every top has a different story underneath."
Follow us on Twitter: @BeeImportantUSA

"IF THE BEE DISAPPEARED FROM THE SURFACE OF THE GLOBE THEN MAN WOULD ONLY HAVE FOUR YEARS OF LIFE LEFT. NO MORE BEES, NO MORE POLLINATION, NO MORE PLANTS, NO MORE ANIMALS, NO MORE MAN."

-Albert Einstein

Sources:

Beekeeping for Beginners- Is Beekeeping for Me? Bee Thinking. Retrieved from https://www.beethinking.com/pages/beekeeping-for-beginners

Braun, D. M. (2016). What We Now Know – and Don’t Know – About Honeybees and Colony Collapse Disorder. National Geographic Society. Retrieved from http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/27/what-we-now-know-and-dont-know-about-honeybees-and-colony-collapse-disorder/

Colony Collapse Disorder. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/colony-collapse-disorder

Sarich, C. (2013). List of Foods We Will Lose if We Don’t Save the Bees. Honey Love Urban Beekeepers. Retrieved from https://honeylove.org/list-of-food/

Tucker, J. (2014). Why Bees Are Important to Our Planet. One Green Planet. Retrieved from http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/why-bees-are-important-to-our-planet/

Why are Honey Bees and Beekeeping Important? Beekeepers Association of Southern California. Retrieved from http://bascbees.org/why-are-honeybees-and-beekeeping-important/

Zissu, A. (2015). The Buzz About Colony Collapse Disorder. The Natural Resources Defense Council. Retrieved from https://www.nrdc.org/stories/buzz-about-colony-collapse-disorder

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