What’s the buzz about the Trent University Apiary group, you ask? Well, let us fill you in on what’s “nest” for the bees and their caretakers!
Before we begin to drone on, however, we should talk about the insect in the room. Apiphobia, the fear of bees, has been a common fear for a long time. According to fearof.net, apiphobia ranks #49 out of the Top 100 Most Common Phobias. This hasn’t been helped by movies made about killer bees. Some of you might remember Macaulay Caulkin’s character being killed by his bee allergy in My Girl (1991), or better yet, the horror movie The Swarm (1978), in which millions of bees attack and thousands of people die. There is countless bad press about these flying friends, but recently there is support for them, in such movies as The Bee Movie (2007), The Secret Life of Bees (2008), and a newer film Tell It to the Bees (2018).
So, are opinions on bees changing? They seem to bee! International campaigns to “save the bees” having been advocating for bee rescue for a while now, and organizations like Greenpeace and Bee Mission are doing what they can to raise awareness and funds to help out these important pollinators. They are trying to send a message to the world that bees are in trouble, and it is everyone’s duty to help. Brazil Gaffney-Knox, the Co-President of the Trent Apiary, says that bees are “non-antagonistic,” and wants to remind everyone that when a bee stings you, it dies. Stinging is a last resort for bees who protect their hives and their queen, and nobody wants to lose a helpful bee.
The Trent Apiary is a small group of five volunteer beekeepers who take their time to look after eight to ten hives, with an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 bees in total. Why is that estimation so diverse? Well, bees are constantly in a race against time, and the race has never been more desperate than it is now, with extreme climate change happening around us. The effects of climate change causes bees to have shorter lives, which are already short enough! The average honey bee can live up to 152 days. This means that old bees die while new bees are being born, which means that numbers can get a little bit “fuzzy” in the hives.
The volunteers who run the apiary come from various academic backgrounds, as anyone can learn to beekeep with time, patience, and respect for the little guys and gals. Brazil says that anyone is welcome to join the group, as long as they are aware that it takes time to learn how to care for bees; you can’t just jump in and hope for the bee-st. Like any kind of animal care, the lives of our beloved animal companions are always at risk from neglect and improper handling. Other ways to get involved are to check out the club’s film nights, beeswax workshops, and meetings every Wednesday evening at 4 p.m. in the CLLC room in Champlain College.
Not into volunteering? The group is on a mission this semester trying to gather 1000 signatures (or 10 percent of the undergraduate student body) in order to bring the question of becoming a levy group to the TCSA. As of January 17, they are only halfway there! The proposed levy, or what this journalist likes to call the “Bee Fee,” would help to create a financed structure for the apiary; including new equipment, tools, educational outreach, and even paid staff positions. That’s right, you could one day soon be hired to hang out with the swarms! Although not everything will happen at once, a levy fee would certainly help the group and their little friends out immensely. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
Now “hive” got to end on an informative note! If you’re interested in helping out by providing a signature for the petition, look for the petition clipboard at the Seasoned Spoon in Champlain College. Or you can come out to see some apiary reps in the Student Center in the main lobby on January 20 and February 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Every signature helps! To find out more, visit Trent Apiary on Facebook.