June 8, 2015 | noon
By Monique Kleinhuizen '08, Communications Strategist
Some new residents moved to campus this summer. Sodexo—the provider of Bethel’s campus dining services—has added a colony of bees to the on-campus gardens where it produces sustainable produce and herbs.
When Sodexo General Manager Bob Schuchardt and his wife Ruth visited the Minnesota State Fair and heard about the declining bee populations and what Twin Cities organizations were doing to help, they instantly thought about bringing bees to Bethel. In May, the bees were installed in Sodexo’s Royal Gardens to produce honey, add to the aesthetic of the gardens, and involve the Bethel community in fostering a healthy environment for bees. The University of Minnesota “Bee Squad”—a full-time team of beekeepers developed to support bee enthusiasts and monitor bee populations in the Twin Cities area—will maintain the hive through regular visits.
Schuchardt and the Sodexo team involved the whole Bethel community in welcoming the bees to campus. During spring semester, Sodexo launched a student hive design and naming contest. Dozens of hand- and computer-drawn designs—and some clever names for the new colony—were submitted by students, staff, and faculty. Students Jessica Arend’ ’17, Claire Cornell ’17, Jessie Gartland ’15, Michael Rangoonwala ’15, and Sodexo employee Jane Chase contributed to the yellow hive design and construction. The painted enclosure includes Bethel’s logo with a hive in place of the shield, honey dripping from the top of a striped hive-like structure, and flowers and grass along the bottom. The winning name—The Royal Honey Hive—came from Miranda Middendorf ’16.
Bethel’s interest in hosting bees comes at a time when beekeeping is increasing in popularity as bee populations decline nationally. The Bee Squad steps in “‘from hive to bottle’ to allow families and organizations to own bees without having to manage them,” says Bee Squad Associate Director Becky Masterman, who has worked with Sodexo to develop its beekeeping plan.
Masterman also notes that the growing interest in beekeeping has helped improve the plight of bees in other areas. Once people bring bees to their yards—or businesses or campuses—they often become passionate about the pursuit, educating their friends and neighbors on bee-friendly gardening practices and the importance of bees to our ecosystems. With this new addition to campus, Bethel joins a team of “bee ambassadors” for the estimated 350-400 types of bees living in Minnesota. Bees’ close connection to our food supply makes the hive a logical choice for a food service company with a social and environmental conscience.