Western Washington University is a certified Bee Campus!

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Culminating a two-year application process initiated by the Outback Farm, Facilities Management, and the Office of the President, WWU is now recognized by the Xerxes Society, an organization devoted to global pollinator conservation. The Bee Campus USA program provides a framework to help pollinators by increasing the abundance of native plants, protecting nest sites, and minimizing the use of pesticides.

 

News headlines have alerted us to the rapid decline of bees and other pollinators. This is caused by a combination of habitat loss, pesticide use, and for honeybees the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder. That's a huge problem, because about one-third of our diet comes from insect-pollinated plants. Losing honeybees has been called the single greatest threat to our food supply.

 

The good news is that WWU is making a difference. Leading this initiative is the Outback Farm, a partnership between Fairhaven College and Associated Students. In addition to growing food for campus, the Outback serves as a classroom, outdoor laboratory, and place for students to relax, connect, and be inspired. An important part of the Outback is the apiary, where hives of honeybees thrive amid the flourishing trees, shrubs, and crops on the farm. A new teaching apiary was started in 2019 with the support of community beekeeper, Chris Harrington, with continued mentorship from Marisa Papetti of local honey company Marie’s Bees. The Outback apiary is working to evolve and expand as a facility for teaching beekeeping, entomology, and the importance of pollinators for the environment and for our health.

 

Bee Campus certification was led by WWU Fairhaven College students Kristy Lee (’20) and Sasha Mosier (’23). As current leader of the bee team, Sasha is out every week for hive inspections. “I love the bees themselves,” she says. “My favorite part is sharing the experience with other students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity – watching the expression on their faces when they suit up and are surrounded by bees for the first time is priceless.”

 

Bee Campus Certification requires the University to create and follow an integrated pest management plan, a habitat plan, and ongoing outreach and education efforts to engage students in beekeeping and protecting pollinator species. Every year, WWU will report back to Xerxes about our efforts. Heidi Zeretzke from Facilities Management writes, “the Grounds Department is pleased to partner with the Outback and the greater WWU community to help in the very important work of protecting our pollinators.” She has already been engaged in this work through eliminating the use of certain pesticides and landscaping with native species on campus.

 

 “Bees have a way of engaging everyone. It’s one of our earliest and most important human-animal relationships, and we’re instinctively drawn to their hives and honey,” says Outback Farm Manager Terri Kempton. “I’m so proud of our students leading this initiative - and of our collaboration with Facilities Management and their knowledgeable, passionate crew of land stewards.”

 

Please consider helping support the WWU teaching apiary. By making a donation, you not only help the bees, but you become part of our team as we inspire students to engage with pollinators, the environment, and a future filled with sweetness.