State University is doing its part to help promote the benefits of bees as
pollinators through a partnership with local beekeepers and the Harold and
Pearl Dripps School of Agricultural Sciences with the introduction of a bee
program at the McNeese farm.
The goal is to not only educate McNeese students
but also agriculture producers and the community about the benefits of bees as
pollinators for food and agriculture crops, the value of wildflowers and plants
that provide food for bees and the honey which is produced by the hives,
according to Dr. Chip LeMieux, school director.
enrolled in Animal Science 101 are learning about bees in relation to the
agriculture industry, including their importance as pollinators and how this
impacts the food system and the serious threats currently facing bee
manager Darrin Goodwin says that not only was the bee program initiated as a
way to introduce students to beekeeping, but the school is also excited about
potentially applying for research grants and developing a graduate program
involving the beehives.
"We understand and appreciate what bees do for
our environment and Louisiana has an especially good climate for bees, giving McNeese
a unique opportunity to contribute to the research in this area,” says Goodwin.
he adds, is especially important as bee populations continue to suffer from
ailments like Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which worker bees mysteriously
abandon their hives, young and queen. According to the Environmental Protection
Agency, since CCD first appeared in the United States in 2006, it has
contributed to an annual loss of 30 to 60 percent of beehives across the
country. "The bee shortage has rippled through the agriculture industry,
causing significant economic impacts,” says Goodwin.
beekeepers Ronald Ellis, Larry Kebodeaux, Gena Miller and Steve Harrell have donated
equipment, hives and over 25 years of combined expertise to get the bee program
off the ground. "It’s been my dream for years for McNeese to have a bee
program,” says Ellis, who worked with Goodwin to get the program launched.
the course, students learn from these volunteers about the process of
commercial honey production and receiving hands-on experience in harvesting,
extracting and bottling honey produced at the farm.
to Goodwin, honey is now available for sale at the McNeese CAMPP (Center for
Advancement of Meat Production and Processing) store in Room 121 of Gayle Hall,
along with fresh cuts of beef, sheep and pork processed at the CAMPP facility
in Lacassine. For information more information, call the school at 475-5690.
from the honey sales will go towards developing the bee program and paying for
supplies,” says Goodwin.
Kebodeaux sees working with the program as an investment for the future of
beekeeping. "This is something that benefits everyone. Bees are really
struggling now and this new program at McNeese can make a big difference. Maybe
research done here in the future will help discover a cure for CCD. It’s a
win-win for the bees and McNeese.”
57th Annual Louisiana Beekeepers Association Convention is in
Sulphur this weekend and several participants including state agriculture
officials will tour McNeese’s bee hives at the farm.