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Education

Elmhurst College wants to install beehive on campus

Students of Marge Trocki's beekeeping class get a hands on look at a working bee hive at Lyman Woods in Downers Grove.
Students of Marge Trocki's beekeeping class get a hands on look at a working bee hive at Lyman Woods in Downers Grove.

ELMHURST – Elmhurst College has approached the city for permission to install a beehive on campus.

The hive and the beekeeping training will be used as a platform for the education and support of students, faculty, staff and the wider community members who are interested in the science, according to documents presented at the July 12 Public Affairs and Safety Committee meeting.

“The primary motivation for the beehive is for educational purposes,” Elmhurst College Executive Director of Facilities Management Bruce Mather said. “We would have a small beehive on the roof of our science building in the southeast corner of our campus, and we would use it for our science classes to study ecological issues and sustainability issues.”

Students enrolled in ecology, environmental biology, invertebrate biology and zoology classes would get the opportunity to complement their studies with hands-on research experience.

Additionally, according to committee documents, business majors will forecast and analyze the projected revenue from a single hive per year. The hive could yield about $600 per year and become a self-sustaining activity within the first year.

Besides widening the academic experience for students, Elmhurst College wants the beehive to support environmental sustainability in Elmhurst.

Honeybees provide 80 percent of the pollination for vegetables, fruit, seed and flower crops, which account for one-third of the diet in the United States. They also aid in the natural cross-pollination of local and community gardens, according to the committee document.

“Bees are a very important part of our ecosystem and our food chain. They pollinate all our plants, flowers and crops,” Mather said. “Having the beehive on campus would be good for the ecosystem of Elmhurst.”

Bringing a beehive to Elmhurst College would help offset the massive global bee population decrease caused by colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that occurs when the majority of bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the immature bees and the queen.

This initiative falls under the college’s greater sustainability plan that seeks to impart social responsibility and a respect for physical spaces.

Elmhurst College has an arboretum that was established in 1966 and holds about 800 trees and shrubs. The west side of the campus is home to a prairie garden boasting 75 species of native plants. Its newest housing facility, West Hall, has 42 rooftop solar panels and a storm rainwater capture system.

In 2015, the Bluejay Butterfly Oasis was established as a Monarch Waystation, a place that provides the food and habitat necessary for monarch butterflies to produce successive generations and sustain annual migration from Canada and the United States to Mexico.

If the project is approved by the city, Elmhurst College expects to have the beehive installed in the spring of 2017. Phase I will involve training core Elmhurst College staff in the practice of beekeeping, including theory, scientific research and business analysis.

During the July 12 Public Affairs and Safety Committee meeting, interim Fire Chief Bill Anaszewicz mentioned that Hanover Park has a village-owned beehive and that he would look into their zoning rules. Chairman Chris Healy suggested that Evanston zoning rules regarding beehives also be considered.

Healy and Vice Chairman Dannee Polomsky want to understand the impact a beehive in the Elmhurst College campus would have on the neighborhood. Polomsky requested the legality be thoroughly explored with city attorneys, and Healy asked Elmhurst College to request input from neighboring residents. According to Healy, approval of the beehive project can take up to eight weeks.

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