A Beehive of Activity
Bees play a critical ecosystem service function in that they pollinate many of our crops, thereby increasing our production of food. Bees also produce a number of useful products, such as beeswax and, of course, honey.
Unfortunately, bee populations have been declining precipitously in North America over the past fifty years. While pinpointing exact causes of bee losses can be difficult, it appears that bees are increasingly under assault from a combination of diseases, parasite and pest infestations, climate change, shrinking habitats, and exposure to harmful pesticides like neonicotinoids.
From spring through fall, hundreds, if not thousands of bees can be seen daily in the Center's rain gardens and its Community Organic Garden. What visitors might not realize is that the Center has been home to about twenty beehives and hundreds of thousands of European honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) at its Urban Apiary (beeyard) located in the NW corner of the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. While the Center has maintained beehives for many years, a Ford MODEL Better World Grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund, as well as a volunteer workforce from Ford, provided an opportunity in 2012 to expand beekeeping operations on campus.
The Apiary is where Center staff investigate best management practices for urban beekeeping using different types of beehives, such as Langstroth, Warre, and top-bar hives. Other research activities include assessing various supplemental feeding strategies, as well as insulation techniques, in order to optimize colony health and over-wintering success. University of Michigan-Dearborn students can take part in the Center's year-round beekeeping activities, including hive start-ups, seasonal hive maintenance, and even honey extraction and bottling (during late summer).
The oversight and maintenance of the Center's hives are coordinated by Beeyard Manager, Mike Perrin. If you would like to learn more about the Apiary or want to inquire about how you could volunteer there, please contact Mike at (firstname.lastname@example.org; Ph. 313-583-6370) for more information.