University of Denver Pollination Association: To bee or not to bee?
By: Ana Júlia Rodrigues Alves |
Almost all beings on the planet are heavily reliant on pollination for their survival. Pollinating animals such as bees, bats, birds, butterflies, moths, beetles and many others are essential to Earth’s ecosystem because they ensure that plants will produce full-bodied fruits and a full set of viable seeds. Without them, over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1,200 crops would cease to exist. That means that one out of three bites of food you eat is because of pollinators.
All around the country, it is common to see a combination of environmentally destructive practices that endanger pollinators. Monocultures, habitat loss, pesticide misuse and overuse, and climate change are among the biggest problems that affect the pollinating population. Pesticides can affect their neurological functioning; not enough food caused by habitat loss and monocultures can make them weak and lessen their immune response. It is a critical time for pollinator’s health.
DU’s Pollination Association is a student-led organization that aims to engage students in pollinator-related advocacy and activities on and off-campus as well as pushing students towards improving pollinator health and collaborating with other pollination communities in Denver. Most importantly, DU pollinators want to educate others on pollination.
“We strive to make it accessible for all students to learn about the pollination process, as well as the transition initiatives to help pollinators into their own lifestyle, whether that is making a bat house, or even just being more conscious about where we source our honey from. Our biggest mission is to inform students about pollinators’ roles and what we can do as students to help them,” said Bella Shaw, vice president of the club and a junior at DU.
Besides engaging in pollination advocacy, members get involved in several different activities and club-organized events. Previous gatherings included
beeswax lip balm decorating, planting your own bamboo and beekeeping workshops that provide opportunities to make connections with the pollination community in Denver. They are currently planning an event to build housing for bats as an Earth Day initiative and have recently acquired two bee boxes that will stay in DU’s community garden.
“Anyone’s allowed to go see these bee boxes whenever they want. We have had a few garden and hive work days where you can suit up and go look at the bees. We’re also hoping to get students out there for spring quarter,” said Shaw.
Colorado’s pollination-related initiatives are extremely important and impactful in the Denver area. The DU Pollination Association offers several opportunities for making connections with people who are making a difference.
“Denver’s pollination community is a really close-knit community and very welcoming. In a lot of beekeeping meetings, they can sell you hives and give information, but it’s mainly about making the environment better and making local connections. Allowing people to connect with one another makes them see what small initiatives can really do,” said Shaw.
But that’s not all DU Pollinators do. Beyond getting involved in the community off-campus, DU Pollinators are encouraged to take matters into their own hands and engage in the political aspects of pollination.
“We’ve been doing some work with legislation for the People and Pollinators Action Network, which is a local organization that our club advisor is directly involved in. Students can work in legislation for pollinators demanding more funding, protection, and services to support them,” Shaw explained. If you want to be part of a community that is changing the world, it is easy to join.