By Jenee Gregor
Marking almost two years being at Washtenaw Community College, the Core Garden offers fresh vegetables and promotes healthy eating habits for students, while also providing an educational experience – across multiple WCC departments. A new edition to the garden is two beehives which are home to a few hundred honeybees.
The hives were installed on May 3 by Drew Zemper, a WCC and Washtenaw Technical Middle College biology instructor. Zemper started beekeeping two years ago and his knowledge and involvement with them has grown exponentially.
“The hives that were installed are not yet established. They are starting (the structures) from scratch… and the bees will build the wax comb. They are building their house,” Zemper said.
The hoop house itself won’t really be affected by the bees, but the surrounding ecosystem will benefit from having a new pollinator present, Zemper added.
The issue of losing honeybees and the detriment to the ecosystem is becoming more of a trending topic. Although there are a few different types of bees who pollinate, the loss of honeybees would be troublesome for the ecosystem’s amount of available pollinators.
“We are trying to introduce the importance of the bees dying, and teach people how vital they are,” said Kim Groce, the Core Garden manager and divisional counselor in humanities, social and behavioral sciences.
The classes that are taught in the Core Garden are open for anyone to take, as well as the non-credit classes, mentioned Groce.
The amount of people who have expressed group interest in the beekeeping community in the last five to 10 years has been great, mentioned Jason Gold, one of the founders of the MI Folk School, and also a WCC continuing education teacher.
“The idea of a folk education was popular, but not in demand, and that has changed in the past 20 years,” said Gold. “The fact that WCC has beehives is extremely great, it’s showing that people are thinking outside the box and adding courses to be more self sufficient. By getting together as a community and sharing information, community is built – that means relying less on corporations and more on each other building community that is upheld by sharing.”
Community building depends on workshops, classes and “round-up” meetings where people can get to know each other and learn as a group to grow.
A beekeeping workshop is on the horizon for late summer or early fall, mentioned Groce. Also the farm harvest and management class will be offered in the Fall.
Groce added that the construction management students are building a permanent farm stand location in the Student Center during this summer. The farm stand will be giving away harvested vegetables and greens from the hoop houses, as well as the honey when the hive is established and safe to be harvested.