What is Bee Campus USA?
It's not just about the bees! Thinking globally and acting locally, Bee Campus USA provides a framework for campus communities to work together to conserve native pollinators by increasing the abundance of native plants, providing nest sites, and reducing the use of pesticides. Bee Campus USA affiliates make commitments to conserve native pollinators. Students, faculty, administrators, and staff work together to carry out these commitments and make their campus a better place for pollinators.
So why is Syracuse University Involved?
The Bee Orange Project
In 2019, Associate Teaching Professors Lisa Olson-Gugerty and Mary Kiernan in Falk College were awarded a Campus as a Lab grant to place six honeybee hives on campus. The hives were placed on South Campus in the spring of 2020 and produced over 27 gallons of honey in their first season! Their contribution as a pollinator helps support one-third of the world’s food production as well as the reproduction cycle of hundreds of bee-friendly plants. This in turn benefits the local ecosystem and cultivates biodiversity. Unfortunately, North American beekeepers are experiencing high colony loss due to a variety of diseases, the use of pesticides, and the reduction of pollinator-friendly and native plantings. To help bolster the local ecosystem and biodiversity, we are proposing to establish honeybee hives on Syracuse University grounds, offer educational workshops on beekeeping for the University and local communities, and support bee-friendly initiatives throughout the area.
Syracuse University Campus Honey
In Spring 2020, Syracuse University’s South Campus became home to six honeybee hives, which house over 300,000 honeybees. In their first year on campus, the bees harvested enough nectar from campus plants and trees to create over 300 pounds of honey. The honey is harvested twice a year and has been bottled for sale on campus. In the next few weeks, University community members will be able to purchase the honey in the Campus Store in the Schine Student Center, as well as in campus convenience stores.
The product for sale is raw honey, meaning it is not processed and contains only one ingredient: honey. Raw honey retains beneficial nutrients, pollen, and antioxidants that processed honey does not. The honey has a distinctive Syracuse University flavor, due to the unique plants in the area of the hives. A jar of honey will cost $12, with all proceeds for its sale going back to support the honeybee hives overseen by Sustainability Management.
Currently, Syracuse University has 950 acres, of which 624 acres are green space, which supplies bountiful habitats for pollinator species, encouraging their critical existence. The establishment of honeybee hives in an area helps to support pollinator-dependent plants, including native plantings and agriculture-producing plants.
Native pollinators co-evolved with plants over millions of years, forming mutualisms in which plants and pollinators rely on each other for survival. In the United States, non-native (“exotic”) plants dominate ornamental landscapes, largely because they tend to attract fewer unwanted insects. The horticulture industry has become adept at “improving on” the species that were native to the United States to make their flowers larger, brighter, more suitable for cutting, etc. This process often leads to a reduction in the quality of pollen and nectar or loss of pollen and nectar altogether. While some exotic or hybridized species supply adequate nectar, native pollinators primarily rely on native plant species. Plant wholesalers and retailers tend to grow mostly exotics, hybrids, and named cultivars that may or may not provide the food and nesting sources native pollinators rely on. These plants are often treated with pesticides, many of which harm pollinators.