Students hope garden project will be the bee’s knees

The beehive is sprayed with smoke before it is opened, putting the bees to sleep temporarily without harm.

By Emily Eiermann

Many people have an innate fear of bees. When one finds its way into a classroom, it is often met with flinches, shrieks and attempts to swat it down. When one flies too close to someone on his or her way to class, it’s not unusual to see the person panic and sprint away.

Even Winnie the Pooh, a lovable yellow bear who won the hearts of millions, had trouble finding their redeeming qualities, once saying: “The only reason for being a bee that I know of is to make honey, and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.”

This semester, however, Rider is bringing more bees onto campus and, according to the Bronc Bees, this is not a bad thing.

On Monday, April 9, Rider will welcome two brand new beehives through the work of Bronc Bees, an organization created to maintain the bees and educate the public about them.

The first hive was introduced in spring 2011 by Loren Pagan, a graduating political science major who also co-manages Rider’s garden. She got the idea from a conference at Princeton University about organic farming and, with the help of Associate Dean of Science Dr. Laura Hyatt, Central Jersey Beekeepers and local beekeeper Bob Hughes, put the plan into action. However, the bees did not survive the year, which is why they will be replaced with new ones on Monday.

There are notable differences between the two endeavors, according to Pagan.

“Our first hive is a top bar hive, [which is] better for wax production,” she said. “This second hive is a traditional hive, or ‘Ten Frame.’ It’s a big honey producer, so more honey this year.”

Besides honey and wax, bees pollinate various plants and flowers, according to Pagan, which provides invaluable services to Rider’s environmental sustainability.

“Both [the bees and the garden] are sustainable and help each other,” said Jessica Canose, a junior Spanish major and the other co-manager of the garden. “Bees can help pollinate things so flowers in our garden will grow. It’s all one system, so we’re trying to streamline everything so people can see the connection.”

Maintaining the beehive has also become a part of the new sustainability minor. However, students from all disciplines can volunteer to become beekeepers, a job that requires them to monitor the bees and feed them from time to time over the winter. Even those with a fear of being stung can participate, because the bees are smoked before disturbing the hives, essentially putting them to sleep for a short time.

“A lot of people see bees and think, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re going to sting me,’” Canose said. “I’m afraid of bees, but we looked from afar. You aren’t necessarily touching them, and there’s a lot we can learn just by looking.”

For those with less adventurous tastes, Bronc Bees is also trying to start a blog about the hives at Rider and general bee education.

A ceremony will be held for the arrival of the bees on Monday, April 9, at 12 p.m., on the first intersection of the path behind West Village Commons.

To get involved with Bronc Bees or to join the mailing list, contact Loren Pagan at paganlo@rider.edu.

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