KOKOMO, Ind. — It was a “bee-utiful” day to learn about pollinators.
Dressed in white protective gear, Denise Shue, who maintains Indiana University Kokomo’s bee hives, opened the hives and talked through the inspection process with nearly 40 people watching from the safety of a screened tent during a Meet the Bees event.
Andy Tuholski, director of the Office of Sustainability and event host, said the first honey harvest from the hives was about 155 pounds. The Cougar Cupboard campus food pantry gets half of the honey from the hives, which were installed last summer, while Shue takes the rest to maintain the bees.
He added that Shue Bee Farm was selected as the official beekeepers because of their commitment to education.
“In addition to caring for our pollinators, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience they are eager to share, up to and including beekeeper training,” he said. “If anyone from IUK is interested in learning more, I am happy to connect them.”
The hives are in Sustainability Meadow, a secluded area on the east side of campus, away from campus buildings. As Shue removed the cover of one hive and began removing frames from the honey supers, more and more bees emerged, and their buzzing became more audible. As she checked the frames, Shue’s daughter, Brandi Erickson, carried frames up to the screen, so their audience could get a closer look at larvae, partially filled honey, drones, worker bees, and one hive’s queen.
She said seeing the bees up close is a way people can learn more about where their food is produced.
“It helps people get a little closer to their environment, and understand more about where their food comes from,” she said. “So many go to the grocery store and have no clue where their food is coming home. Beekeeping brings you closer to that, and it makes you start thinking more about what their role is. When the apples start blooming, they won’t pollinate without the bees. They play an important role.”
Andrea Méndez Rodriguez, student body president, was interested to learn that drones – the male bees – don’t have stingers, and to see that baby bees are fuzzy.
“I think it’s awesome we have the bees,” she said. “The honey is a great addition to our Cougar Cupboard and helping people with food insecurity.”
In 2022, Indiana University Kokomo earned Bee Campus USA certification from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.