GVSU beekeepers new executive board aims for growth

Courtesy / GVSU Beekeeper Club  Sighting of the Queen Bee.

Courtesy / GVSU Beekeeper Club  “Sighting of the Queen Bee”.

Taylor Crowley

Grand Valley State University’s beekeeping club plans to take new leaps this year with having already selected brand new executive board members in addition to two new positions: data manager and social media coordinator.  

By introducing these positions, the beekeepers begin their big plans for growth and progress within the club. The newly elected executive board members have new goals for the club, focusing on outreach in the community to develop a broader following and membership. 

The former president of the club, Megan Damico, said she feels comfortable knowing that it will be in good hands, as she graduated from GVSU this past April. 

“My biggest thing I was looking for when recruiting for the club was who I thought was going to be excited,” Damico said. “It takes a certain type of person to put themselves out there and say, ‘Hey this is something that needs to be cared about.’”

Damico believes that the newfound board members, specifically the newly elected president Victoria Ostrander, is just as lively and excited as she was to lead the beekeepers. 

Ostrander said she plans to focus on communal events this year. In the past, the beekeepers have worked with different organizations in the community but have lacked a consistent return rate for interested members.  

“Many people are scared that if they don’t know a ton about (the bees), that they’ll feel like they’re not a part of the club,” Ostrander said. “It’s one of the stigmas we want to break.”

Hosting events to further outreach is the club’s number one goal for the upcoming year. At the end of the summer, the club will host their annual honey harvesting event where the members will retrieve honey from the hives. From there, they will host a bottling session. 

Along with new events, social media platforms will also be improved. In the past, the Facebook and email accounts were run by the whole club, accessible to anybody who had time to get on them and post or answer questions from peers.

However, the new social media coordinator position may flip the switch for the beekeepers in their outreach goals.  

Faith Kuzma, who was elected social media coordinator, plans to post several times a week to keep the followers engaged and interested in their material. She plans to post fun facts, articles of interest, and cool videos she comes across. She will also be available to answer questions about the club and future events. 

Unfortunately, though, there was a loss of a third of the nation’s honey bee colonies between April 2016 and March 2017. This represented the second lowest rate of colony loss in the last seven years. The article says that over the last decade, about 40 percent of colonies were lost each year.

A few reasons why this is happening include urban development, insecticides, fungicides, illness and climate change. 

The beekeepers at GVSU plan to do their best to avoid higher losses of their bees in the next year. The club already maintains hives, collects the honey, and plants flowers that specifically tend to the wellness of the bees. 

There is no collective data on the bees at GVSU currently because of the lack of a data analyst on the executive board. 

Damico said the lack of collective data of the hives and the bees was the biggest downfall the club had. There was no telling how many bees there were, how many survived the winter, or how much pesticide was being used to ward off the predatory mites. Andy Freiman, elected data manager of the club, plans to keep numbers on these as well as the financial side of the club. 

Not only was this a harsh, extensive winter for the beekeepers, but it was terribly devastating for the bees. 

“We lost all of our hives this past winter,” Freiman said. “We will have to get all new hives for the upcoming season.”

Purchasing one new hive of bees costs $500 according to Damico. She said that the honey sales and the club’s community support is what keeps them afloat financially. 

The beekeepers are taking these new goals one step at a time, starting with community events like the honey harvesting in the fall. The new bees, new executive board members, and a broader community interest is the next step into making this upcoming season a success.