Honey bees generally require little care, that is, if the colony is healthy and well-established. The hives on American University’s campus are two and three months and some have hive beetles (a pest that can drive bees to swarm); Beyonce, on the roof of the School of International Service, was installed May 23 and Bea Arthur and The Golden Girls and Obi-Wan, near the Watkins Building, were installed in late June.
Amateur beekeeper and International Development Assistant Professor Eve Bratman and her apprentice, international development master’s student Lindsay Booth, have been spending a great deal of their free time tending to the 120,000 bees in their care.
Funded by 32 members of a honey co-op, made up of individuals curious about the project, Bratman plans to garner honey—up to 40 pounds per hive per year—but more importantly, use the hives as a teaching tool, not only for AU students, but also interested members of the surrounding community.
Despite concerns about having the bees in such close proximity to faculty, staff, and students, Bratman and Booth are confident that there is little risk and that campus will come to embrace the benefits the bees provide. As the colonies become increasingly self-sufficient and honey collection season looms, AU’s resident beekeepers are brainstorming ways to expand the initiative, including seeking out a restaurant to sponsor a hive.