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Penn State Beekeepers Club Fosters Importance of Honey Bees
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 11/09/2018

A club in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences is creating quite a buzz around campus.

The Penn State Beekeepers Club, which was founded in 2013, brings together beekeeping enthusiasts and those who simply are interested in learning about and sharing the beekeeping hobby.

Over the past five years, the club has stayed true to its original intent but also has evolved, thanks to the current co-presidents, Carrie Zamonski, a senior in environmental resource management, and Hannah Chisler, a junior in secondary education English. These two leaders and the 35 other dedicated members promote the importance of native pollinators and living a sustainable lifestyle.

The Beekeepers Club fosters the importance of honey bees through various activities, such as "hive visits." Hive visits to Wiley Apiary are a highlight for most of the club, Zamonski explained. At a hive visit, the members suit up, go out into the field, and open honey bee hives.

The point of this is to learn about the dynamics of a hive and effective methods for keeping bees. Zamonski noted that her favorite part about the club is to take new members to the hives for the first time.

"I see the same awe and healthy fear in them that I felt the first time I held a frame with hundreds of bees on it," she said.

The members also have opportunities to learn from experts in the field. The club's adviser for the past two years, Margarita López-Uribe, Lorenzo L. Langstroth Early Career Professor of Entomology, has been able to share her passion and her research with the club's members. She studies honey bee and wild bee health and often interacts with beekeepers.

Since López-Uribe specializes in wild bees, she hopes to enlighten club members on the importance of other types of bees and other pollinators. She believes sharing this knowledge and encouraging students to participate in research projects are excellent ways to engage students who are interested in this topic.

In addition to benefiting the students, the club's mission also is important to the environment. The club educates members and the public about pollinators and their importance to our ecosystem. For example, club members learn about the flower varieties that attract and support pollinators because not all plants can provide bees with the pollen and nectar they need.

Although honey bee mortality has increased at an alarming rate in the past 15 years, native pollinators such as the bumblebee also are being threatened.

"The spreading of any type of knowledge is the best way to fight for the environment; to be able to elicit change starts with knowing how," said Chisler.

One of the aspects that makes this club unique is how the diverse backgrounds and professional goals of students are united by a similar passion for bees, according to the club's officers. The group is open to anyone who wants to learn more about bees and the surrounding environment, regardless of major.

Those who want to help "save the bees" are invited to join the Beekeepers Club. Information about activities and meeting times can be found by liking the club's Facebook page.

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