Skip to main content

‘Sweet’ sale to benefit student beekeepers club

Two people in beekeeper suits hover over a beehive box. Amanda Keene, left, and Xianzhong Wang harvest honey from the beehives at the IUPUI Urban Gardens. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana UniversityTwo new beekeepers have taken the helm at the IUPUI apiary, and they’re sharing the fruits of their — and the bees’ — labor.

For the first time, honey extracted from the campus beehives at the New York Street location of the IUPUI Urban Gardens will be available to faculty, staff and students.

Amanda Keene, sustainability manager with the IUPUI Office of Sustainability, and Xianzhong Wang, an associate professor in the School of Science, decided to harvest and sell honey after they began managing the hives in the spring.

They took over for Steven Blanchard with the IU School of Dentistry, who established the apiary in 2016 with funding from a Greening IUPUI grant.

It was important to Keene to keep the hives thriving after Blanchard retired in July.

A beekeeper kneels next to a beehive. Amanda Keene became co-beekeeper of the campus beehives in the spring. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University“Bees are essential to people and the planet, due to the wonderful pollination services they provide,” she said. “Our campus bees not only help pollinate the two campus gardens we have here at IUPUI, but also other crops, which benefits our local ecosystem.

“Beehives face a lot of challenges, anything from surviving cold winters to insufficient resources due to human activity to varroa mites. So, I didn’t want these hives to be left alone to fend for themselves.”

Keene also didn’t want students to miss out on the benefits of having an apiary on campus.

“A campus apiary helps bring environmental science and sustainability to life. It provides our students with hands-on learning and research opportunities,” she said. “And now that we’re harvesting and selling the honey to the campus community, it provides access to local raw honey, which some students may have never had.”

The honey was harvested in the Campus Center kitchen, thanks to a collaboration with Chartwells, which manages all food locations on the IUPUI campus.

Close up of honey being rolled out of a wooden frame. Xianzhong Wang scrapes honey from a frame in the Campus Center kitchen. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University“One of Chartwells’ main pillars is community, and that really extends to students,” senior marketing manager Molli Loftus said. “Any chance that we get to collaborate, partner and even lend kitchen space, we always want to take that opportunity to show how dedicated we are to the campus, the students and sustainability.”

Jar of honey with label facing up sitting on top of multiple jars. Money raised from honey sales will benefit the Urban Beekeepers Club. Photo provided by the Office of SustainabilityMoney raised from the honey sales will pay for additional protective gear, so more students can observe hive inspections. It will also fund educational opportunities for the Urban Beekeepers Club, a student organization that promotes knowledge about honeybees and other pollinators.

Wang, who also serves as faculty advisor to the club, hopes more students get involved.

“Working with the campus apiary will enrich the educational experience of the students,” he said. “By learning more about bees, I hope some of them grow to become beekeepers and educators about honeybees and beekeeping. I hope it’s a spark that starts from our campus and expands across the state.”

Students can learn more about the club and find contact information on The Spot.

Wang encourages everyone to consider beekeeping and said you don’t have to be a biology major or sustainability expert to do so.

“When I started keeping bees, I started from zero,” he said. “The starting point is the same for almost all beekeepers: We all learn from the beginning.”

Half-pound jars of honey will be available for $6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 13, or while supplies last, at Simply Puur in the Campus Center. Supporters can pay by credit card or CrimsonCard.

Tia Broz is a communications consultant in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing.