Building Better Minds


Spiders study bees to save Virginia agriculture

Posted at 3:00 AM, Oct 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-04 07:17:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. --  When visiting the Richmond Spiders, be careful of the bees. The University of Richmond has installed two honeybee hives on campus; a living laboratory.

Biology Lab Manager Kirstin Berben said there is a lot of information to gather about the honeybees.

"What the bees are gathering, how they're using their pollen stores, what they're feeding on, are they bringing along pesticides that they're getting out in the world and bringing those back into the hives?"

Kirstin Berben/Bio Lab Mgr.

This research opportunity is a sustainable and educational response to the global decline in the bee population called “colony collapse."

Campus Beekeeper Joe Essid has kept bees at his farm in Goochland for the past 16 years.

"Without the bees, we would have to get by with 2/3 of the food we currently have," Essid said.

Campus Beekeeper Joe Essid shows hives to Rob Cardwell

He’s teaching students about how bees are important to the stability of local and global food systems.

"Parasites, diseases, the influence of pesticides and herbicides that are overused; these put stresses on the beehive, so the beekeepers have to be a little more proactive."

University of Richmond students Shaina D'Souza and Nella Gray Schools

"It's a super cool way to apply your learning and what you've done in the classroom," University of Richmond senior Shaina D’Souza said.

Fellow student Nella Gray Schools said the research can help students of all ages.

"Another intern is working with a boy scout, biology professor and Lewis Ginter to make a pollinator garden. "

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