Climate Change Community Food Landscape

WU Beekeepers – A Student Group Revitalized

Back after a period of dormancy, the WU Beekeepers are abuzz with activity once again. Sophomore Kane Koubsky re-started the club last spring, and now leads alongside sophomore treasurer Lucas Dionisopoulos. Koubksy, the club president, started beekeeping the summer before college and came to WashU with the goal of revitalizing the club and sharing his love for the hobby.

“There’s a simple beauty in opening up a hive, smelling the honey the wax and the bees and getting to enjoy spending time with these endlessly fascinating creatures,” Koubsky said. “That’s why I bee keep—it’s not so much about harvesting honey or pollination—but just because of the simple fascination that I have with bees.”

He and Dionisopoulos hope to continue to grow the club’s membership. “Mostly we want to inform the students and get them excited about beekeeping,” Dionisopoulos said.

“You don’t have to have any experience with bees or bee keeping to join; you just have to have an interest,” Koubsky added.

The club keeps its hives on Snow Hill on the Danforth Campus, and while their bees recently died because they weren’t strong enough to survive the cold, they plan to restart in the spring when the weather is warmer. Once the hives are developed enough—possibly in a few years—they hope to harvest and sell their honey. Until then, the group plans to engage with the WashU community and to visit local schools to teach about bees in the spring.

So far this semester, WU Beekeepers have held General Body Meetings and hosted a honey tasting event where they taught attendees about native bees. In addition, Koubsky and Dionisopoulos just received funding to attend a full-day workshop with the Eastern Missouri Beekeeping Association, an organization with which they’ve been building a partnership.

Through their work, the WU Beekeepers bring attention to insects that are critical for our environment’s health and to our food system but are threatened by the effects of climate change. Bees are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of our food, and in the US, $15 billion worth of crops depend on their services. They also provide wax and honey and maintain overall genetic diversity in plant populations. Today, bee populations are increasingly impacted by pesticides, diseases, changing weather patterns and habitat fragmentation.

WU Beekeepers hopes to play its part in protecting them.

“We need to take care of our honey bees, but it’s the native bees we really need to worry about. Those guys don’t have bee keepers watching out for them and they’re a little bit harder to protect,” Koubsky said. “Native bees need to be loved too”.

This article was written by Carmen Vescia, Food Associate at the Office of Sustainability.