MOUNT OLIVE — For centuries, humans have harnessed the power of bees for their honey, as well as for pollinating crops and commodities. In recent years, however, bee populations have experienced a decline due to a variety of causes.
Great efforts have been undertaken to assist these small, but mighty warriors. To help honeybee colony numbers, educate future leaders and participate in sustainable practices, the University of Mount Olive School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences has joined forces with the Beekeepers of the Neuse to build and maintain a Trojan Apiary.
The partnership started by providing a certified beekeeping course for current UMO students. In 2022, the inaugural class of 12 students trained and prepared to become certified beekeepers. With the help of the Beekeepers of the Neuse, the creation of the Trojan Apiary first beehive began with one package of bees. With training and some ingenuity, two other swarms were caught using swam traps. Those swarms were transferred into hives at the Kornegay Student Farm to build the apiary.
The university is working to incorporate bees and the school apiary into the sustainability plan for the Kornegay Student Farm. Bees are utilized to pollinate several crops at the farm, including strawberries, blackberries, grapes and numerous vegetables
To further UMO’s sustainability plan, several pollinator plots have been installed to provide perennial native wildflowers. The flowers, native to eastern North Carolina, provide pollen and nectar for the bees during periods of the growing season in which flowering plants may not be available. The select mix of flowers was carefully developed by Garrett Lee at Garrett Wildflower Seed Farm of Four Oaks.
“The perennial wildflowers provide not only a burst of color and food for our bees but also a reminder to invest in the environment and wildlife in our area,” said Assistant Dean of the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Jason Davis.
According to Davis, students play a significant role in managing the bees and the pollinator plots. “By having an active role in the pollinator plots and the apiary, students understand the role of native plants, healthy bee populations and the intricacy of these factors in our local environment and agriculture production for a safe, reliable food supply,” he said.
Davis noted that the university sells blackberry and strawberry jam grown from the berries on the student farm, as well as jars of honey from the Trojan Apiary. For more information or to purchase products from the Kornegay Student Farm, contact Davis at RDavis@umo.edu.
— From University of Mount Olive Public Relations