MU
Oak Leaves

May 5, 2017


FYS Class Leads Bee Awareness Week


Kelleen Cullison

Despite bad weather and power outages, the leadership FYS class was able to pull through with its events for Bee Awareness Week 2017. 

From the first semester, the class had planned five events throughout the week, but Wednesday’s Spelling Bee was cancelled due to the campus wide power outage, and Saturday’s planting of bee-friendly flowers was put off until Tuesday due to inclement weather. 

“We were lucky that most of the events we had planned were not time sensitive and that the students were receptive to the changes,” said Virginia Rendler, who served as project manager. “We were definitely disappointed that the spelling bee was cancelled, but everything else went really well.”  

Events kicked off Sunday, April 23 with a “BIA” followed by pizza and T-shirt signups for first-year students. The VIA featured guest speaker David Young from Capstone 118, a nonprofit organization settled in the 9th Ward of New Orleans that provides homegrown produce and honey to residents who struggle to find nutritious food. 

“More than one-third of the world’s produce is reliant on bees,” Young said. His gardens and orchards are grown as naturally as possible, and they rely on plant friendly bugs like honeybees lady bugs, wasps and monarch butterflies to pollinate and protect their produce from weeds and parasites. “We can’t afford to lose bees,” he said. 

Bee populations have been declining since World War II, when chemical pesticides began to be used on crops. People began to take real notice a few years ago, when entire bee colonies began to disappear en mass.  

A combination of monoculture farming habits, pesticide usage, parasites and loss of habitat hasn’t boded well for the bees. “Every batch of pollen that bees collect now has at least six notifiable chemicals in it," Young said. 

Coming into contact with these chemicals has made the bees intoxicated and unable to return to the hive, sick, and has even proved fatal to them. 

These findings were elaborated upon by Leadership FYS students Marie Bougher, William Southern, and Emily Jones in a Science Seminar held the following day. They found that, in 2006, scientists reported that bees weren’t surviving the winter anymore due to the factors stated by Young. 

After their stint of research into melittology, the study of bees, the student presenters encouraged the audience to plant bee friendly flowers and to avoid pesticides and products that contain Neonicotinoids, such as products from companies like Bayer, as well as installing bee hotels and baths in your yard to encourage pollination. Purchasing organic foods is another small way people can contribute that makes a big difference. 

“If you choose to purchase organic food products at the grocery story, whose plants were not doused with harmful pesticides, you are supporting a bee-friendly farming industry, since bees can pollinate organically-grown food without being poisoned,” Southern said.  

Friday night, students meant to show a bee-themed movie in Flory Auditorium. However, due to technical difficulties, the showing and guests were moved to the Academic Center, where the night continued without a hitch. 

“Each year I challenge my FYS students,” said Dr. Heather Schilling. “Last year, they did a color run. This year, they wanted to save the bees.” 

"There were quite a few other causes thrown about in our early planning; helping veterans, raising money for animal shelters, and supporting the Trevor Project were some other prevalent ideas," said Ben Sendo, head of communications for the bee project. “The idea for Save the Bees was honestly just one of many ideas we tossed around and eventually felt the most motivated to do.”  

Sendo also organized the planting of bee-friendly flowers on campus with head groundskeeper David Good. “With his help, we figured out what we could do to plant as many bee friendly flowers as possible,” Sendo said. And with Bella Case, who took the initiative searching for the project grant, they were able to collect over $700 worth of flowers to be planted by volunteers. 

“I hope students are able to gain a better understanding of the importance of the bee’s role in our society,” Southern said. “and learned simple ways to promote the survival of bee populations for future generations.”