EWU abuzz with anticipation for beekeping conference

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EWU abuzz with anticipation for beekeping conference

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

By Kaisa Siipola, Reporter

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There are some fun-filled, buzzing events to bee aware of this weekend at EWU.

The Pacific Northwest Beekeeping Conference is from Feb. 8 through Feb. 10 at EWU.  On Feb. 8 is a “HappBee Hour” event with Sarah Red-Laird (aka the Bee Girl) the founder and executive director of the Bee  Girl Organization, from noon to 2 p.m. There will be lunch and meet-and-greet with the Bee Girl and a pollinator fair about ways to get involved with pollinator protection in the region.

On Feb. 9  will be two concurrent tracks of talks from scientists and hobbyists and a keynote presentation by Bee Girl, at 11 a.m. in the Hargreaves Reading Room.

Lastly, on Feb. 10 the Bee Girl, EWU Biology, and Mobius are having a “Train the Trainer” workshop with the Bee Girl from 10:30 a.m. to noon and a Kids and Bees Program with the Bee Program from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Mobius Science Center.

The events are organized by Assistant Professor of biology Jennifer Walke and biology operations manager Jenifer Pfeifer. The events are being supported with funding from ASEWU and the Start Something Big Grant that Walke and Pfeifer received from the EWU Foundation, along with assistance from ASEWU and EWU Sustainability Club.

“We have partnered with Mobius Science Center to bring the Kids and Bees event to families and educators in our community,” Pfeifer said. “There are graduate and undergraduate students as well as staff from the biology department who have been involved in the preparations, and others who will be volunteering during these events.”

The PNW Beekeeping conference started with a local beekeeping club called the West Plains Beekeepers Association which is presenting the conference.

The intention of the conference is to increase education on bees to students and get beekeepers from the region together to talk about the best practices in beekeeping and some of the latest research that is coming out regarding the health of bees.

Walke has been assisting the West Plains Beekeepers Association with promoting that mission and organizing the conference.

“We are hoping to get people excited about bees and maybe get some new beekeepers out of these events,” Walke said.

Walke is very excited about the conference and thinks it’ll be fun for EWU students to have the opportunity to get together with the Bee Girl  and learn how her work and education are inspiring communities to care about bees and all of the food they pollinate.

The Office of Sustainability is helping promote  the conference, emphasizing the Bee Girl event.

Office of Sustainability Coordinator Erik Budsberg thinks that the conference is a cool community-based program and a great opportunity for people who might not normally stick around on campus.

The concept of sustainability can be applied when looking at honey bees and how they play a really important role in food production and our food systems at the conference.

We are hoping to get people excited about bees and maybe get some new beekeepers out of these events.”

— Jennifer Walke, assistant professor of biology

“One in every three bites of food you take has been the result of a honeybee or pollinator,” Budsberg said. “So it’s important to bring awareness to doing things that don’t harm our pollinators, but protect them or can help them survive and thrive, because in the end that really comes back to us from a food system for humans and other plants and animals to really thrive.”

Walke will be sharing her new research results on beneficial bacteria for humans that is inside the guts of bees at the conference on Feb. 9.

“The conference and the other events around the conference is really important to me because I do research involving honey bees and I want to share that research and … why it’s important with the broader community,” Walke said.

Pfeifer hopes that many students take advantage of the opportunities the bee conference and the associated outreach event provide.

Students that are interested in attending the Happy Bee Hour with the Bee Girl on Feb. 8 from noon to 2 p.m. in PUB 317/319 should email [email protected]. Anyone that is interested in learning more about the Bee Girl can visit www.beegirl.org

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