“Our campus also hosts two fully functional apiaries,” is not something commonly heard on a college tour—but then again, Mason is anything but common. The Honey Bee Initiative is a Mason-led project that focuses on engaging students in an innovative education while supporting collaborative research tackling the honey bee crisis and becoming a leader in sustainable bee keeping.
The initiative was launched in 2012 through the sponsorship of the School of Integrative Studies and the help of a Patriot Green Fund grant. Since the program began in 2012, it has grown to include four apiaries: two on the Fairfax Campus (the original campus apiary and Buchanan House), one at the Smithsonian–Mason School of conservation in Warren County, and the apiaries at Sunny Side Farm in Loudoun County.
The initiative also offers classes to Mason students on beekeeping and sustainability, which have boasted extensive waiting lists since their inception in 2013. The Honey Bee Initiative also includes several public–private partnerships and global outreach programs focused in the Andes and Amazon in Peru. Through these outreach programs, students have the opportunity to travel to South America and get hands-on experience working with the communities to establish sustainable entrepreneurial beekeeping programs.
Moving forward, the initiative hopes to strengthen and expand the multidisciplinary reach of the program (arts, engineering, etc.) by focusing on honey bee health, while using the data collected from the research to improve local food production, environmental conservation, and economic opportunities.
Interested in supporting the efforts of the Honey Bee Initiative? Here’s how you can help:
- Hive upgrades to gather real-time data to measure the bees’ health and inform research.
- Providing students with scholarships to help with the ability to take the Sustainability and Beekeeping course, as well as provide a stipend to travel to the Amazon.
- Educating students and the community about the interdependence of pollinators and human food sources, and modeling best practices in the management of honeybee hives.
- Advancing global sustainability initiatives and economic alternatives for underserved regions.
- Collaborating with public and private groups on honey bee sustainability including proper queen selection and regional distribution.