PSU welcomes bees to its pollinator-friendly campus
Author: Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: June 13, 2016

Students handling bees at the PSU Apiary
Portland State University students installed honeybees and mason bees on campus this spring.

In an effort to improve Portland State University’s urban ecosystem and provide an educational opportunity for the community, the Student Sustainability Center has installed two hives with as many as 100,000 honeybees near a community garden and orchard at the edge of campus.  

As part of the effort to make the campus friendly to pollinators such as the bees, PSU was named this spring as the 10th Bee Campus USA campus in the nation by Bee City USA for its commitment to minimize the use of harmful chemical pesticides and raise awareness of the plight of pollinators, including bees, which have suffered from colony collapse and die-offs in recent years due to chemicals in the environment. 

“Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of three-fourths of the world’s plant and tree species,” said Bee Campus USA director, Phyllis Stiles. “PSU is a stellar example of the influence educational institutions can have on their students and larger communities.”

The bee project was supported by PSU’s Living Lab program, an initiative of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions and Campus Sustainability Office that provides financial support and staff time for student initiatives that provide learning opportunities while helping the campus achieve its sustainability goals. 

“Bees provide an excellent opportunity for students to learn about how the actions we take affect our environment,” said Stefanie Steele, a senior biology major, intern with the Student Sustainability Center, and lead beekeeper. “By highlighting the value of pollinators and encouraging students to engage with these beautiful and highly organized insects, we can all learn about the interconnected nature of our ecosystem.” 

The PSU Bees apiary currently hosts two hives housing Carniolan and Italian honeybees. Students also introduced 30 cocoons of mason bees. Students and staff worked closely with PSU facilities staff to ensure policies are in place to keep the bees and the PSU community safe.  

The PSU Bees project received mentorship from Tim Wessels of Bridgetown Bees who taught a beekeeping workshop on campus and provided guidance to students during the installation of the hives this spring. 

Learn more at PSU's Campus Apiary webpage.