Bees get degrees: two hives join campus farm

By Brennen Finchum

The newest additions to Trevecca’s urban farm are smaller than your pencil.

Over the summer, Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator, put in two bee hives next to the chicken coop, behind Redford and Shingler Halls, as part of an ongoing effort to grow an urban farm on campus.

“The goal of the urban farm is to inspire TNU students and visitors to re-imagine a way of growing food that is good news to a world languishing from the effects of unjust ways of growing and distributing food,” Adkins said.

The main reason for getting the bees was for their honey.

Their pollination also increases the productivity of the flowers, vegetables and fruits that Trevecca is growing, Adkins said. Trevecca is also helping keep the bees alive since they are currently endangered because of pesticide.

Adkins estimates there are about 50,000 bees within both hives. Each hive cost about $80, which makes each bee worth about a tenth of a penny.

Bees often don’t make any honey during their first year, which was the case for Trevecca’s bees.  But, starting their second year, the bees could produce anywhere from 55 to 100 pounds a year, which Adkins said Trevecca will sell and give away to visitors.

The bees aren’t dangerous to be around, and are no threat to students residing in the apartments. The only time you would need to wear the gear is if you’re getting into the hive, like to get honey, Adkins said.

The bees are free to come and go as they please through an opening that’s about an inch tall in the box they are housed in.

Just like many of Trevecca’s environmental projects, the bees live in a symbiotic relationship with their neighbors. That is, the chickens assist the bees by eating the hive beetle, an enemy of the bees.

Generally, a female hive beetle will fly into the hive and lay her eggs. Once the eggs become larvae, they begin to feed on the wax, pollen and honey that the bees made.

According to keeping-honey-bees.com, the bees need the pollen and wax to raise more bees and survive through winter.

The hive beetle can also feed on the queen bees eggs and they can ruin all the future honey by discharging their feces in the hive.

The bees don’t do anything in return though.

“It’s a one-way relationship,” Adkins said.

The bees are just one addition to the urban farm that Trevecca is continually growing.

The vision for the farm is to create a working farm that feeds Trevecca students and faculty, especially local residents who suffer most from food inadequacies, Adkins said.

“This working farm should be a place to create jobs, especially to our neighbors with employment barriers,” Adkins said.

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