A Gift of Bees

A hive of local honey bees are the newest residents of the Ursinus organic garden. The bees were donated by alumna, Suzanne King 1966, and will be cared for by Environmental Studies students. King took up beekeeping as a hobby with her grandchildren, including Kimberley Bullock, a freshman this year.

Suzanne King 1966 and students in the ENV Studies program

The hobby has become a passion for King who contacted the Environmental Studies Department about sharing one of her hives with Ursinus. On this visit, King asked beekeeper, Warren Graham Jr.,to help the bees adjust successfully to the garden. Graham, a longtime beekeeper and master gardener in Delaware County, was optimistic. The bees settled and began navigating in and out of the hive. King, Graham, Joseph and several students toasted their arrival with a spoonful of fresh honey.

Keeping the bees is important for many reasons, says Associate Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies Leah Joseph. “There are environmental issues going on with bees right now, including Colony Collapse Disorder, which has many of them dying and can have a major impact on agriculture,” she says. The lush garden is quickly becoming home to the locally-raised bees. They will create their own comb and the honey will not be harvested.

“The bees are adjusting wonderfully,” says student Julia Bull 2012. “It took them two days or so to get the lay of the land, but they seem to be doing great.”  Bull feeds them daily with “bee tea” – a mixture of sugar, water, and a variety of herbs. King brought a container of the tea with her and a recipe for the students to follow when it runs out.

“The bees love the orchard and the herb garden. I may have even seen a few of our bees around campus,” says Bull, who is from Media, Pa. “I am so happy to be a part of this project. Bee keeping is extremely important, seeing as the honey bee population continues to dwindle. The bees give us so much. They pollinate our food sources, and without them, to put it quite frankly, we could not survive. The least we can do is make an attempt at helping them to survive.” – KC