On one of the hottest days of summer, Grand Valley's resident beekeepers think nothing of putting on boots, gloves and a beekeeper’s suit to check their hives.
It’s a passion for Anne Marie Fauvel, affiliate faculty member in Liberal Studies, and now a new passion for the Meijer Campus in Holland.
Fauvel, who had a bee hive at her home, proposed the idea of an apiary (where honey bees are kept) to the Holland Campus Green Team two years ago. Melissa Peraino, director of educational outreach for Continuing Education, said it was an easy sell.
“The apiary is a very natural fit for the Holland Campus, with the resources we have here and our strong commitment to sustainability,” Peraino said, adding that there is a well-established beekeepers association in Holland.
Two hives of bees were set up on the campus in June. Fauvel and a student, Jennifer Holt, successfully received a grant from the Sustainable Community Development Initiative for the apiary.
Holt’s interest in bees grew and she established a new student organization: GVSU Bee Keepers; she serves as its president.
It’s not the only student connection to the apiary. Engineering students and computer science students lent expertise in building a digital, solar powered beehive scale complete with software to collect data from the apiary for Fauvel’s research project.
The campus apiary will be the only Michigan connection to a national NASA project, HoneyBeeNet, which draws data from hives to help scientists better understand climate change.
“The hives give information on pollination seasons and climate change effects by studying how the nectar flow changes from year to year,” said Fauvel.
An engineering advanced product development class built the bee hive scale hardware, and computer science students built program software. The Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence gave grant money to support the research project.
Fauvel teaches a Liberal Studies course that focuses on the apiary and how honeybees impact society. “Bees are connected to nearly every aspect of our lives,” she said, citing cited historical, religious and socioeconomic ties to bees.
The apiary has a website, www.gvsu.edu/honeybees, that features a project timeline, photos, bee blog and more.