The founding campus of the University of Maryland in downtown Baltimore may seem like an unlikely place to have a honeybee project, but that's exactly what is happening. Two beehives have been started by students, faculty and staff as part of an initiative to teach participants that beekeeping is environmentally responsible and can produce healthy food.
"Bees are the best pollinators," says Kate McManus, director of building operations and food service at the University and overseer of the apiary project, located in the Old St. Paul's Cemetery adjacent to the Medical School Teaching Facility and Health Sciences Facility. "They collect pollen and make the honey from flowers and plants close to the hive and, therefore, the honey that is produced assists your immune system from the local allergies."
McManus notes the project has the support of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the School of Medicine. Local honey is considered the perfect health food and is easily harvested and grown.
The honey bee project is sponsored by the University Wellness and Academic-Life Balance Program whose mission is to assist students in achieving a state of academic-life balance within the dimensions of physical, emotional, social, cultural, ethical, intellectual, environmental, and financial wellness.
"We want to teach students, faculty, and staff that beekeeping is environmentally responsible," McManus says. "By becoming a backyard beekeeper you help the environment by your bees pollinating trees, flowers, veggies, and fruits in our neighborhood. It is a win-win."
The honey bee project began in February 2011 when volunteers were asked to construct the hives and install the first bees and their queen. McManus says one of the hives has flourished while the other suffered setbacks from an inactive queen. Participants want the bees to produce enough honey to be able to survive the winter. Additional honey will be for human consumption.
McManus says Old St. Paul's Church has been supportive of the project.
"Old St. Paul's is very, very positive about this arrangement," McManus says about the future of the apiary project. "Hopefully we'll be selling the honey in the Campus Center as one of our environmental wellness initiatives."
(Written by summer intern Lauren Edwards)