The Campus Life Office harvested its first batch of honey from their First-Year Experience (FYE) Buddy Programme.
The Bee Project came to fruition in 2018 after a presentation by an Australian entrepreneur and co-founder of Flow Hive, Mr Stuart Anderson, at the USP Entrepreneurship fair.
The inspiration behind the project was the efficiency in harvesting honey from the innovative flow hive by Mr Anderson.
With the monetary support from the University, expert advice from the Ministry of Agriculture, and manpower from Campus Life FYE buddies, the Campus Life team was able to secure one flow hive from Australia.
The Campus Life buddies and staff were tasked with the regular maintenance of the hive and bees. Due to unfavourable conditions, bees had to be fed as they could not go out and search for nectar.
The project’s early stages were challenging to the need to gather resources from Australia; but, with the help of the University, the initiative was successful.
The Campus Life team was also aided by Ministry of Agriculture bee experts, who came to the hive on a regular basis and provided further insights into process improvements.
According to the First-Year Experience (FYE) Coordinator, Prakashni Ram, only a few buddies were included in the bee project due to the limited protective gear.
In addition, COVID-19 restrictions hampered interaction with the buddies. However, few involved were eager to learn about the processes of honey production and beekeeping.
“Some buddies were afraid of being stung by the bees, but with the necessary safety precautions and training, they were able to overcome this fear. We are grateful that these buddies have achieved additional skills that they can use in the future.” Ms Ram added.
She said they are looking forward to easing restrictions, extending the bee project, and passing on the knowledge gained.
Third-year Food and Computer Science student, Vivek Naidu was pleased to have been chosen to be part of the Project.
Naidu said that apart from overcoming his fear of bees, he appreciates the skills acquired, particularly understanding the honey-making process from start to finish.
“The bees are fascinating. They work every day and deserve the metaphor ‘As Busy as a Bee’. The way they protect their queen is amazing,” Naidu said.
Third-year Computer Science and Information System student, Prashant Mani, assisted in the upkeep of the bees.
Naidu thanked the Campus Life Office for starting the Bee Project to dispel the myth that bees are dangerous insects.
Naidu added that bees were an essential part of the environment as they assisted in pollinating plants to blossom or bear fruits.
“I look forward to the extension of the programme and more education around the importance of bees for the environment,” he said.
The first harvest resulted in the production of 22 bottles (500ml). Ms Ram noted that the proceeds from the sale would be used to expand the project by purchasing more hives, safety gear, and other equipment, allowing more First-Year Experience buddies to participate.