Michigan State University freshman Anna Jullie is not having your typical day at college. She and her colleagues have spent the day extracting honey from the stunning and intricate beehives that they have been nurturing for over a semester. Jullie is president of the Bailey Bee Team where students tend to a bee house atop of Bailey Hall in Brody Neighborhood.
While they may be small, bees play a massive role in providing food for humans – bees pollinate at least 30% of the world’s crops according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Over the past few decades, bee keepers have lost over 25% of their honey bees in just the US alone. This phenomenon has been given the term, Colony Collapse Disorder.
The reasons for CCD are unclear, but the EPA points to pesticides harming the bees, climate change, stress from being transported for agriculture, and disease.
Researchers and students at MSU are dedicating their lives and their studies to advocating for the health of bees around the world. In addition to the Bailey Bee Team, other programs at MSU aim to educate the public and promote the growth of the bee population once again.
Dr. Laurie Thorp is director of the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE) and is mentoring students who work at the Bailey Bee House. Thorp, who has been teaching at MSU since 2002, wants the general public to really understand what would happen if the bee problem continues to worsen, which would be loss of our most important crops.
Another instigator of change is Meghan Milbrath. She is a professor and researcher at MSU and coordinates what is known as the Michigan Pollinator Initiative, an MSU program which aims to conduct research to understand and resolve the threats facing bees.
Thorp and Milbrath both said it is so important to take action to teach those who do not realize just what honeybees do. Milbrath suggested planting flowers and calling legislators for the public to spark a positive change even if they aren’t scientists or researchers.
Even with all that MSU is doing, all in all, the future of the bees remains in the hands of the greater public and what they choose to do with the knowledge that scientists give them.