Honey bees have been around for more than 100 million years, pollinating plants, flowers, and trees including over one-third of the food we eat. Bees provide $1.6 billion worldwide in economic value, underscoring their importance and role. They collect pollen and nectar and produce propolis, honey and wax, each having multiple uses. Honey bees function in colonies of thousands of individuals with a division of labor and an extremely complex social structure.
Today, bee populations are being negatively impacted by a number of anthropogenic causes. A major cause of the decline of bee populations are insecticides, specifically neonicotinoids. These chemicals represent the fastest growing class of insecticides, and effect the bees on contact. They increase motor activity, weaken their ability to learn, and weaken their long term memory, often causing the complete collapse of a hive.
The UNE Honey Bee Conservation Club is working to combat the decline of honey bee populations and bring awareness to the importance of honey bees and their plight. In the spring of 2017, the club began and two hives were set up, with a generous donation of equipment. The hives can be found on the Biddeford Campus nestled away between the commuter parking lot next to the Student Academic Success Center and the lower residential parking lot. Keeping the bees happy and healthy will give the club the opportunity to harvest honey from successful hives, contributing to UNE’s Edible Campus Initiative.