School of Dentistry professor Steven Blanchard working to designate IUPUI a Bee Campus USA affiliate
January 31, 2017There's been lots of buzz around bees in the news lately. A phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder has been severely impacting beehives across North America, bringing into stinging focus the important role these busy little pollinators play in producing myriad popular crops. According to an article in the Journal of Apicultural Research, between April 2014 and April 2015, beekeepers across the United States lost more than 40 percent of their honeybee colonies. Within the state of Indiana, winter beehive losses of 40 to 60 percent have been seen over the past several years.
The School of Dentistry’s Dr. Steven Blanchard, associate professor and director of graduate periodontics, is a hobbyist beekeeper and has been leading a project to establish beehives on campus. "Part of the issue is loss of habitat, and a lot of monoculture farming," Blanchard said. "The number of commercial beekeepers has declined quite a bit … it's been too problematic."
But it's not all bad news: "There has been a tremendous growth in urban beekeeping in the past five to seven years," Blanchard said.
The IUPUI hive, located near the sports fields south of the dental school, is part of the current renaissance in urban beekeeping. “The main goal was really just to get bees onto campus,” Blanchard explained. "We want to use this as an educational tool."
The IUPUI Office of Sustainability is working with Blanchard to achieve a Bee Campus USA designation to support North American pollinators.