Honey bees are the most important pollinator of food crops in the world. It is estimated that nearly one-third of all food we consume relies on pollination from honey bees. At Carleton, we are making an impact by increasing the honey bee population one colony at a time.
The colonies are a part of the Biology Teaching and Research Garden, which provides tremendous experiential learning opportunities for our students. The Teaching and Research Garden allows students to explore sustainable food production, medicinal plants, concepts in urban farming and other topics in applied life science and ecology. The Garden is also an integral part of research for our graduate students and faculty.
The Department of Biology has been managing colonies of bees in the Teaching and Research Garden for six years now. During this time, the bees and garden have provided unique opportunities for course demonstrations, recruitment events and walking tours. For example, we do a honey extraction demonstration in September for BIOL 3204 (Diversity of Insects) and talk to the class about applied entomology. In BIOL 3301 (Biotechnology II) we use a bee demonstration to highlight an ancient biotechnology that has modern problems requiring innovative solutions (e.g. pests, diseases and colony collapse). We find that the bees serve as a focal point from which a whole series of topics can be explored and students really enjoy being a part of these sessions.
Your generous donations will help support the maintenance of the bee colonies here at Carleton. This fund will allow for ongoing equipment purchases, construction of new bee boxes, and for buying additional protective clothing and hive tools for students. Another of our goals is to raise queen bees that are adapted to our local environment. Your donations will help us obtain specialized equipment and develop the knowledge needed for queen rearing. These initiatives will expand experiential learning opportunities for our students when we resume in-person activities. (While classes remain online, we spent the summer filming key aspects of bee husbandry for continued inclusion in our courses.)
By supporting our work with bees here at Carleton, you are helping to ensure that our community is making an impact by supporting these powerful pollinators. Your support extends beyond the bee colonies. The productivity of fruit and nut trees that we have been planting in the garden will be enhanced by our bees. Most important, you are providing unique experiential learning opportunities for our students to explore sustainable systems and food production.