The declining populations of bees across the globe has become a central problem for many workers in the field of Melittology. With such a crucial role to play in the global food economy, bees need now more than ever to be treated with care and understanding.
TKS sat down with President Patrick Prom, Vice President Jordan Micus, and Treasurer Sofia Tagkaloglou of the newly founded Bee Club on campus and talked with them about their goals to bring bee awareness to Knox.
TKS: What was your inspiration to start this club at Knox?
Patrick Prom: We founded it on the understanding that most environmental studies majors have: that the bee populations are declining. In [Associate Professor of Environmental Studies] Peter Schwartzman’s Intro to Environmentalism class, people do MAD [Make a Difference] projects. They help us reach out to the community and help us figure out how we can make an impact. A lot of people who have done that project have based it on honeybees. It’s funny, because I haven’t even taken that class, but I want to keep honeybees after college. We founded the club on those principles and wanting to do something about it.
Sofia Tagkaloglou: Galesburg has such a strong agricultural landscape — I mean, we are in the heart of the corn land. Bee keeping is very common around here and we decided that it was time to start the club. We had the sustainability funds to start it and the interest from the student base who were very passionate about it. I think it was great the way it worked out.
TKS: What goals are planned out for the club?
Jordan Micus: For the college, it has a lot of educational benefits. It’s tied to a ton of things in the real world: political, environmental, economical. Bees are a basis of nature that have an effect on everything else in the world, and I think it goes with Knox’s goal of teaching sustainability. It’s a great addition to the growing interest in urban agriculture. Aside from that, Illinois is a great place to promote beekeeping because Illinois has seen a lot of losses in bees due to pesticides being used.
PP: We want to ship local honey from Monmouth and get around five gallons for the kitchens. We hope to educate people and make it so they understand the difference between bees and, say, wasps … Trying to have people understand that bees aren’t dangerous and that when we bring them to campus, people should at least be tolerant and not be afraid.
TKS: What main idea are you trying to relay to the college about bees?
ST: Beekeeping is not something that is foreign or that you have to be a farmer to do. We are just a group who want to commit a couple hours a week to doing this. Hopefully, people can see that this is something that is easy to do and we would like to normalize the activity.
JM: When I did it in high school, I wasn’t interested in it. There is a very basic idea that the bees are dying, and that’s it. There’s no personal effect of the losses, and when you get to see hands-on and are able to be a part of it, it becomes a connection to nature that is really amazing. We are hoping to have bees on campus by next spring. Once people experience it, it is something that is really easy to fall in love with.
TKS: How does the club plan to counteract the nay-sayers to the bees on campus?
PP: One thing that is inevitable is you can thank a bee for two in every three bites of food you eat. Bees are essential to life on this planet and if you don’t like them or if you don’t want to deal with them, they’re around anyway. They’re not meant to harm you, and they will die as soon as they sting you, so they aren’t all for that. We want to show people these ideas and extinguish the fears of them flying around. We want people to support the idea of having bees on campus, but know that they’re safe and even if they don’t want them here, it won’t effect them in a negative way. It will cause more good than harm.
ST: We’ve been talking to the Chief Financial Officer [Keith Archer] and his secretary who deals with insurance on campus to make sure we are covered, and Campus Safety is going to have epipens in case someone were to be stung. The biggest thing for us is to make sure everything is in place for safety. The best way to help convince people is show them we’re ready and show that it’s possible.
Bee Club meets every Thursday at 8:00 p.m. in Eco House. Regardless of experience, anyone is encouraged to attend.