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Gift of Bee Colony Provides Hands-On Learning

Student Bailey Fimreite in Beekeeper's protective suit holding a beehive.
Accent Fall 2017

Bailey Fimreite, a junior in Taylor’s microbiology class, assists Taylor with bee management. This includes checking the hive for disease, parasites and pests, treating it for mites and beetles and distributing sugar water as needed

Without bees, the world would be a very different place. World Wildlife Fund Scientist Jon Hoekstra says food production would fall off dramatically, farmers would lose income and
there would be a shortage of fruit, vegetables and nuts. The planet’s ecology would change and that’s just the beginning.

Enter the MNU Apiary, a pioneering opportunity for students to learn from honey bees. The brainchild of Dr. Rion Taylor, professor of biology, two honey bee colonies have a home at MNU thanks to a donation of 120,000 honey bees from Brent (FS ’85) and Lynette (Hight, FS ’84) Barkman of Barkman Honey and support from the Title III Department of Education Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) grant.

Four key ways the apiary can help MNU students include:
• Supporting applied learning projects demonstrating the connection between biological principles and real-life phenomena.
• Providing learning opportunities for students pursuing animal science, microbiology or ecology careers.
• Supporting learning on colony management, potentially contributing to the understanding of bee colony decline.
• Supporting MNU Science Club activities through the sale of honey and beeswax.

In the first week of class this semester, students in Taylor’sparasitology class tested the bees and found Varroa mites, which are common and can be devastating to the hive. This is just one of seven science courses and one business course that will use the bees in experiential learning.

The honey bees arrived in late May and by August 1, Taylor and Assistant Professor Dr. Nick Troendle, were able to harvest 125 pounds of honey. MNU’s Science Club is selling the honey, and the learning opportunities are spreading to other departments. The corporate identity class, composed of marketing and graphic arts students, has taken on MNU honey as its marketing project. Marketers and designers will work with Taylor to create a brand along with promotional plans to market the honey.

Taylor and Brent Barkman with tray of bees in MNU Apiary
When the honey bees were delivered in June, they began building the honeycomb. The amount of honey produced over the next two months was remarkable. Taylor (left with Brent Barkman) says honey production varies based on rainfall and which plants are in bloom. 

 

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Summer 2018

Recognition: Amazing accomplishments, noteworthy events. This is Accent Summer 2018.

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