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BeeND collaborates with two local apiaries, brings awareness about bees to campus

| Friday, February 7, 2020

Although the flowers around campus are currently buried under snow, and there might not be a bee in sight, the BeeND club is buzzing.

Senior Kateri Budo, president of BeeND, said she started the club in the spring semester of 2019 after going on a spring break trip to Appalachia, where she and a friend got to meet a beekeeper in the Ohio Valley.

“[His work] was really interesting, and I knew that Notre Dame didn’t have a club like that,” Budo said. “I came back and was talking to Alice, and she said she would start a bee club too, so we started it last spring.”

Back in South Bend, Budo began reaching out to local beekeepers. She discovered two nearby apiaries: As It Should Bee and Peace Bees, an organization that employs disadvantaged workers such as the homeless, veterans and the previously incarcerated. Beekeepers from both groups have talked at club meetings, which are a mix of conversations and activities, Budo said.

“Last fall, one beekeeper from Peace Bees came and gave an interactive presentation, where people dressed up and acted out the different parts of the bees’ journey through the hive,” she said. “And then we’ve also had our local beekeepers come and talk to us about harvesting honey. We actually have a meeting next Thursday — we’re going to watch ‘The Bee Movie’ and make beeswax.”

Fr. Terry Ehrman, a visiting assistant teaching professor in the department of theology, is the club moderator and teaches a course on theology and ecology, which Budo had previously taken. He said he got interested when she approached him about starting the club, he said.

“I have a great love of all things natural. … I’ve always been interested in how biology, geology and theology fit together,” Ehrman said. “Learning about that specific organism that has such an important ecological role — their organization, their social life and really just their interaction with humans — is important. It has connections even with theology.”

Because the bee issue is so vast, the club tries to go beyond just educating students about bees and honey, Budo said. It also ties in theological ideas that relate to bees, as well as raise awareness about ethical farming.

“I haven’t been a ‘save the bees’ person my whole life,” Budo said. “But they’re really important in terms of ethical farming. The club is just spreading awareness of the current bee issue and the importance of caring for creation in terms of doing our Catholic responsibilities.”

And saving the bees isn’t only related to helping the planet, Ehrman said, as bees can have quite an impact on day-to-day life.

“People take beehives, and they truck them out to California, and they pollinate all the almond trees — if they didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have almonds, or at least we’d have very few,” he said. “They’re related to all things ecologically, just because of their functions.”

While keeping bees is not yet allowed on campus, Budo said the BeeND club may want to change that.

“Where I could see this club going in the future is actually having bees on campus,” she said. “That’s something that I’m not qualified for — I’m not a beekeeper — but I hope it might move towards that in the future.”

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