A fascination with bees and an on-campus internship helped create the Urban Beekeepers at IUPUI club. But to keep it going, the club needs a new leader—fast. Its current leader, Melissa Kidulas, is graduating and she needs a new queen (or king) bee to run the club.
Kidulas, who is earning her O’Neill degree in Sustainable Management and Policy, started the club in 2017 as part of a project for IUPUI’s Office of Sustainability. The university beehives and the campus gardens already existed. Dr. Steven Blanchard, an associate professor with the IU School of Dentistry, established the campus hives thanks to a Greening IUPUI grant.
But Kidulas had a new goal: help IUPUI gain a Bee Campus accreditation.
“One of the main requirements was to have a group dedicated specifically to supporting pollinators and beekeeping,” Kidulas says.
That support is critical because honeybee populations are dwindling, prompting serious concerns about the future of bees, crops, and pollination in the years to come.
The Urban Beekeepers also worry about their own future. Without a replacement for Kidulas, their club will go inactive.
What the Urban Beekeepers do
Blanchard says the bees on campus help raise awareness about issues with honeybees, provide educational opportunities, and increase pollination of IUPUI campus garden.
In addition to maintaining the campus beehives under Blanchard’s leadership, the Urban Beekeepers promote knowledge about honeybees and pollinators. This semester, Kidulas and her team led a program to build bee houses for mason bees. They also teach basic beekeeping skills and host hive demonstrations. She says those public education efforts are critical to the club’s mission.
“Watching people see hives for the first time is really fun and inspiring,” she says. “People can be apprehensive about bees, but when they can see inside a beehive, they become a lot more comfortable with it and gain a little more respect for honeybees.”
That’s why Kidulas’ work and that of the Urban Beekeepers is so important.
“Without commercial and hobbyist beekeepers, the future of the honeybee is in peril,” Blanchard says.
How to help
Kidulas says one of the best ways students can help the club is by joining the Urban Beekeepers and taking on a leadership role. If you’re interested in leading the club and its educational efforts, contact the Office of Sustainability. For those who want to help pollinators at home, consider these options: