Establish a Towson University Bee-Keeping Community

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The Problem

The population of the honeybee is and has been on a decline. The Environmental Protection Agency reports on their website that “…during the winter of 2006-2007, some beekeepers began to report unusually high losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. As many as 50 percent of all affected colonies demonstrated symptoms inconsistent with any known causes of honeybee death.” The phenomenon has been named the Disappearing Disease or Colony Collapse Disorder. Although many may not regard fewer bees as a problem, the reality of the situation is startling. In a 2007 Washington Post article written by Genaro C. Armas, the value of the honeybee is described, “Along with being producers of honey, commercial bee colonies are important to agriculture as pollinators... A recent report by the National Research Council noted that in order to bear fruit, three-quarters of all flowering plants - including most food crops and some that provide fiber, drugs and fuel - rely on pollinators for fertilization.” Without bees these important crops can’t flourish, and we lose valuable resources. Efforts must be made to help facilitate and restore honeybee populations. I believe that Towson University students and faculty have the means and ability to become involved in the beekeeping community. It may even be possible for Towson University to host a beehive on campus. Genaro C., Armas. "Mystery Ailment Strikes Honeybees."Washington Post, 11 Feb 2007. . U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Pesticide issues in the works: Honeybee colony collapse disorder.”About Pesticides, 2012. .

Plan of Action

According to Baltimore City Health code (located on their website): “Beekeeping is permitted in the City only if: 1. The activity is registered with the Maryland Department of Agriculture; 2. no more than 1 hive, containing no more than 1 swarm is kept for every 2,500 square feet of lot area; 3. hives and swarms are kept so that: a) they are inaccessible to the general public; and b) bee movement to and from the hive does not unreasonably interfere with the proper enjoyment of the property of others, with the comfort of the public, or with the use of any public right-of-way; and 4. proof of Maryland Department of Agriculture registration is readily available for inspection by the Bureau of Animal Control on request.” I have not yet been able to contact County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to further inquire about zoning regulations of beekeeping on campus. However, I have used a map to measure the square feet of the woods behind Smith Hall (located on Towson University premises) and there are more than 60,000 square feet on that property (I have noticed this lot of land remains relatively unused by the student population), which is well within the limits to own at least one hive. As an alternative, a room inside Smith Hall can even be dedicated to beekeeping. Another alternative would be a beekeeping organization can be formed on campus and students can travel to locations off campus and tend hives hosted by different associations. Perhaps this off campus location could be at the Towson University Urban Farm where bee pollination could be a great addition for their fruits. In addition, establishing a beekeeping community in areas near or on campus has many benefits, including but not limited to: 1) New teaching and learning opportunities 2) Beekeeping lessons provided by Towson University to introduce new members into the community 3) Professional and unique experiences for students that can be included in a resume 4) Honey and Beeswax from the hive, used during student functions such as a “Local honey awareness day” as well as for Towson production and merchandise uses 5) Biology and Chemistry department uses. 6) Positive Publicity promoted to help educate others and eliminate bee stigma. 7) Vital pollination for some of campus plants and flowers 8) Help to create a more active student life Establishing a beekeeping community could be very simple. There are multiple locations of the Central Maryland Beekeeping Association just outside of Towson, they offer courses and memberships and could be called for advice or assistance. Also, the Oregon Ridge Center (Cockeysville) and the Robinson Nature Center (Columbia) offer courses at a discounted price to students. We could use these resources to acquire the necessary materials and establish a well functioning and well trained University beekeeping community in Towson. City of Baltimore Maryland. “Bees: Acceptable Standards for Keeping.”Baltimore City Health Code. 2007. .

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