Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat
PSU supports pollinators through the enhancement of campus greenspaces by planting native species. We also care for several student-focused gardens, including an orchard that also houses our apiary.
Within our apiary, student staff, leadership fellows and volunteers have primary responsibility for supporting our campus beehives, orchard plants, and mason bee houses. Student volunteers commit to 2-4 hours of service for at least one academic term in the Beekeeping Task Force.
The Student Sustainability Center manages a seed library in our office, and the seed library includes pollinator plants and native species that PSU community members can take to grow in their own gardens. Some of these seeds have been planted on campus as well.
Policies & Practices
We have adopted integrated pest management plan that guides decision-making throughout PSU’s outdoor spaces. Our Campus Sustainability Office and Campus Planning Office are also developing an Open Space Plan that, if adopted by PSU administration, would create a long term vision for all of the campus’ outdoor spaces. The plan includes a proposal for a new campus greenspace that would support pollinators, native plants, and education about oak savannas.
We have focused on refining policies and practices within our Orchard and apiary so that students, staff, and faculty members are able to access the space while also following safety procedures. We also host a beekeeping training with Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) staff so that student leaders are prepared for any issues that may arise while supporting the beehives. These policies also ensure that pollinator habitat in the orchard is not disturbed and that this ecosystem continues to become more healthy and robust over time.
Education & Outreach
In 2017, PSU hosted a beekeeping workshop with our apiary mentor, Tim Wessels from Portland Urban Beekeepers. The workshop included an informal presentation about beekeeping and honeybee biology. Guests were then able to suit up and help service the hives on a first-come, first-serve basis. A nurse from PSU’s Student Health and Counseling Center also shared a short overview of safety precautions PSU has taken to make our apiary a safe learning space. The event was hosted as part of PSU’s Earth Week event series.
Many service events have been hosted to support pollinators on campus. We were a host site during PSU’s Earth Day of Service and Portland State of Mind Day of Service. We also supported work parties to create new pollinator and veggie garden beds with PSU’s Campus Recreation staff and partnered universities summer travel programs. Beekeeping volunteers also met each week during the academic year to create an annual bloom calendar, build hives, plant new pollinators, install mason bee houses, and more.
At least two PSU classes are covering pollinator-related topics: Urban Ecology and Invertebrate Zoology. Urban Ecology students sampled relative rates of diversity in native and non-native spaces on campus. The Invertebrate Zoology professor supported student as she sampled the diversity of native bees within the Orchard. This baseline may allow us to measure changes in biodiversity in future years.
We continue to work toward the creation of educational signage. However, we are completing behind-the-scenes work to prepare for signs that will last for many years. The SSC students are currently creating a long term vision for our orchard that will inform our signage. We currently have a sign that informs visitors that bee suits must be worn in the apiary, and our new orchard sign includes bees in its design. We have also added a framed copy of our Bee Campus certification and a pint of PSU honey in our office, which receives many visitors.