With so many club options available for a student on campus, one may wonder which to choose. One club, The Bee Team, offers a club experience unlike any other.
Tasha Smagula, co-founder of The Bee Team and graduate student in the Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning Program, said the rooftop apiary started as a sustainability effort run by interns.
“Once the effort was finished, there was no one to take care of the bees,” Smagula said. “We didn’t want to see the bees leave, so we turned it into a student organization to keep the learning going.”
Smagula says the club started out small. It only had three people to begin with, including Smagula, but now it has grown to involve dozens of students over the years.
“It’s a really fun club,” Smagula said. “It’s just a group of students who have never beekeeped before who want to learn and try something new.”
Current president of the club, Savannah Durfee, a sophomore biology major, says The Bee Team is dedicated to education about honeybees and other pollinators.
“One of the big reasons bees are dying is because of pesticides that farmers use,” Durfee said. “It’s contributing to their extinction.”
The Bee Team is working with the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club to ensure the health and safety of the bees they keep.
The Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club donated a box of baby bees for The Bee Team to raise. The Bee Team now has three hives in total, one of which they split to create another hive.
Going into the winter season, The Bee Team is ensuring their bees are prepared by checking for mites and making certain the bees do not have too much space in the hive.
“Bees create friction with their wings to keep the queen warm,” Durfee said. “Too much space equals not enough warmth.”
However, The Bee Team’s work has changed because of the pandemic, according to Durfee. Though many of their meetings were based in-person, they have had to go virtual and often show the state of the apiary through Zoom meetings.
Josh Schreiter, a junior geosciences major and senior hive manager in the club is often the person showing the apiary through Zoom.
“The one hive that made it through last winter we split into two hives,” Schreiter said. “It’s a really docile hive.”
According to Schreiter, each hive has its own personality that is dictated by the queen’s pheromones and highly determinate of the amount of honey or wax that is produced by the hive.
“We try to breed for those selective qualities,” Schreiter said.
Though honeybees were in a state of trouble for a while, due to colony collapse disorder, Schreiter says bees are in a much better position now because of the choices people have made, like what to grow in their garden or what pesticides they use.
“People have started to realize that what they do matters,” Schreiter said.
To get involved with The Bee Team, contact their social media pages or visit their Facebook.