Campus Buzzzzz

Campus Buzzzzz


“Everything we do in the garden is to enhance the student experience on campus,” says Tyler Zarubin, assistant professor of biology and Heritage Garden coordinator. “The bees are an opportunity for students to learn about beekeeping, but more than that, they can try something new, make mistakes and adjust. Trial and error equips our graduates for life outside the University.”

The hives were installed in March with the help of Matthew Peng, a friend of Zarubin’s and an avid amateur beekeeper, who donated money to get the apiary flying. It now sits in the lower part of the garden, surrounded by a slatted chain-link fence.

Ryan Gonzales, a senior studying biology and education, decided to research bees for a biology class. He became one of 12 students who now belong to the Heritage Garden Bee-keeping club and tend the hives a couple of times a week.

“I enjoy working with the bees—the different types of honey you can get from them, and the social structure,” Gonzales says. “We’re observing all the stages of their life cycle, from egg, to pupae, to becoming capped brood, to eating their way out of their cell. You can see them cleaning and maintaining their hive and collecting pollen of different colors— yellow and purple, orange and red.”

The club welcomes visitors and has 11 bee suits for visiting adults and children.

We’re observing all the stages of their life cycle, from egg, to pupae, to becoming capped brood, to eating their way out of their cell. You can see them cleaning and maintaining their hive and collecting pollen of different colors— yellow and purple, orange and red.

“We’ve had kids go in there,” Zarubin says. “It’s fun when people are curious and can see a student pull out a frame.”

Anyone on campus is welcome to walk down and look through the fence as the worker bees come and go. Peng drops by every Saturday to inspect the hives and offer notes on what students did well. He says bees can gather nectar five miles away from the hive, equaling 100 square miles of area—enough to cover much of Irvine.

“I’m so glad this is nearby so I can come help and give students suggestions what to do,” Peng says. “They can put twenty hives there.”

Club members are looking forward to their first honey harvest, though it may be delayed because a recent mite treatment killed many of the bees, and students had to “re-queen” some colonies because the original queens’ egg-laying production seemed weak.

Students in other departments are already working on a business and marketing plan, and a logo and label, to help sell the already-named Heritage Honey.

“I’m looking forward to harvesting the honey and seeing students’ reactions,” Gonzales says.

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