In the winter of 2019, Noah Wichlacz was on a mission.
Wichlacz, then a freshman, was tending to his first ever beehive, a passion born from his fascination with the science of beekeeping and his need to attempt one thing new.
But, because the temperatures dropped to their seasonally chilly lows, Wichlacz skilled the tragic lack of his complete hive, amidst the cruel Eden climate.
He says the expertise motivated him to return again stronger the following winter, and taught him a variety of classes about beekeeping and life.
“The biggest thing that I have learned over my years is that the community behind beekeeping is much larger than I would have expected it to be, and most people are really nice and honestly just looking for advice on how to successfully manage colonies,” Wichlacz stated in an interview with The Spectrum.
Wichlacz isn’t the one UB scholar with a fascination for his buzzing pals. UB Bees, a membership devoted to educating students about sustainability and science by way of beekeeping lectures, workshops and actions, began caring for hives in 2019. The group was capable of safe a $5,000 Honors College Research and Creativity Grant Fund for the undertaking. UB Sustainability additionally equipped $1,000 in start-up funding and located a location for the hives by North Campus’ Crofts Hall. Today, UB Bees has 15 beekeeping fits and 6 hives to are inclined to.
“We are excited to see UB Bees continue to grow,” UB Sustainability engagement coordinator Derek Nichols stated. “With their placement next to the campus garden, we want to solidify this area of campus as a mini-demonstration food system.”
UB Bees director David Hoekstra says placing sources towards sustainable practices like beekeeping is properly well worth the funding.
“On average, around 40% of honey bee hives do not survive the winter, and it is estimated that we’ve lost around 75% of insect biomass in the past 30 years,” Hoekstra stated, as he defined the environmental advantages of beekeeping.
The scholar response has been “tremendous” thus far, Hoekstra says. Hoekstra says previous to the pandemic, he would make weekly journeys to the hive for winterizing, processing and maintenance. Now that there are extra alternatives for students to get engaged in particular person, he’s optimistic that the membership will choose up steam.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether holding hundreds or thousands of bees would help students de-stress,” Hoekstra stated. “Yet everybody that has come out and left the hives feels rejuvenated and far more relaxed than once they enter, which is humorous since having bees fly round you may BEE anxious.
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“I think students benefit tremendously from getting out into a semi-wilderness area, experiencing nature/wildlife, and completely changing their mind and focus to handling bees (instead of the upcoming tests and papers), which is why it has been so helpful for so many students.”
Wichlacz says the act of beekeeping extends far past simply extracting the honey.
“Once you get into bees, it’s almost like opening up a can of worms because you find out there’s so much you need to do,” Wichlacz stated. “There’s so much research going on and there’s a pretty cool industry behind it that I don’t think most people realize.”
UB Bees hosted a honey bottling occasion final Wednesday in collaboration with UB’s Office of Student Engagement. Roughly 20 students had been in attendance to put in writing uplifting notes and bundle and bottle the honey for donation. The membership donated over 100 bottles of honey to Blue Table, UB’s digital meals pantry service. Hoekstra says the occasion “worked so efficiently that we were also able to bottle 100 additional jars of honey for sale to the community later on this fall.”
UB Bees is busy arising with new concepts: new analysis initiatives, environmental consciousness workshops and beeswax lip balm are all on the horizon. Hoekstra even plans on instructing a one credit score module that focuses on pollinator biology subsequent fall.
As for the bees?
“The vision is to find long-term funding from UB to support us,” Hoekstra stated. “We hope to one day supply campus dining services with a healthy supply of honey to be used around campus.”
Jack Porcari is the senior information/options editor and will be reached at [email protected]
Jack Porcari is a senior information/options editor at The Spectrum. He is a political science main with a minor in journalism. Aside from writing and modifying, he enjoys taking part in piano, circulate arts, reptiles and activism.