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New club to bring a buzz on campus

With the resurgence in local urban beekeeping and the Mills campus farm recently breaking ground, it is the perfect time to bring a hive to campus, which is what the new Bee Keeping Club is initiating in the next several months.

“Bees are a dope organism, capable of demonstrating a remarkable model of social organization, very efficient, organized, and run by a matriarch,” the Mills beekeeping club — The Buzz Club — founder, Constance Coco Kennedy said.

Kennedy says that she wanted a space for Mills students to come together to practice beekeeping and to address bees as an important part in our global agricultural system.

“As one of the most efficient pollinators, bees play a vital role in agriculture and food security,” Kennedy said. “without pollination, plants couldn’t reproduce and crop bearing plants wouldn’t be fertilized enough for food yields.”

In recent years, beekeepers have begun to worry about the multitude of forces that are killing bees around the nation. This troubles the beekeepers because bees are vital to food production.

“I lost two hives this year to CCD and it has really motivated me and taught me the importance of beekeeping as a critical action against this,” Kennedy said.

Meredith May, visiting assistant professor and fifth generation beekeeper, has been beekeeping since she was five years old with her grandfather in his old backyard World War II army bus that he converted into his own makeshift honey factory. She said that colony collapse disorder (CCD) is an umbrella term for why the bees are in trouble.

There are many reasons for CCD that revolve around the effects of commercial agriculture companies renting out bees to pollinate their crops, May said. These companies have thousands of hives and drive them around the country on big trucks and put them in agricultural fields to pollinate. She states that moving bees around stresses them out, because it’s unnatural for them. Pesticide exposure, habitat loss from too much development, the Varroa destructor mite and monoculture are other occurrences that she said have contributed to colony collapse disorder.

“Bees are like warning lights, little indicators of what we’re doing,” May said.

Commercial agriculture can be detrimental for bees due to the issues from CCD. May notes that although there is no universal cure for this complex disorder, there are things that can be done to help offset the effects, such as having local stationary hives and planting flowers that bees like.

Kennedy hopes to coordinate the beekeeping club with the farm volunteer days that happen on Mondays from 2-6 p.m. and  Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m.