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Xavier’s NEXUS community garden hosts hives for XU’s Sustainability Club

By Griffin Brammer, Staff Writer

For three years, Xavier has been home to bee hives owned by Xavier biology professor, Dr. Emily Franzen.

The hives are kept at the NEXUS (Norwood, Evanston, Xavier and Urban Sustainability) community garden where Franzen uses them to serve as a demonstrative teaching tool to students about pollination and ecology. 

“As an entomologist, I had always wanted to keep some (bees) but never had quite enough room in our yard for more than one hive,” Franzen explained. 

Newswire photo by Caroline Steiger
Franzen speaks to students in Xavier’s Sustainability Club at the NEXUS community garden, which is found across the street from the HUB.

“I love being able to show people how bees interact, how they’re important to the ecosystem and their basic biology”, she said.

Franzen was able to start the hive after she and Dr. Ann Ray received a grant from Xavier’s Women of Excellence. Now, Franzen runs the hives with her husband on their own time. 

“We have had some students help in the past when we are around, but we usually do all the maintenance and inspections of the hives,” Franzen said.

One particular group of students involved in the bee hives is the Xavier Student Sustainability club (XSS). Senior XSS co-Chair Clare Ravizza explained that XSS is a student group focused on climate action and education. 

“Bees are a pretty vital resource in the wider environment that I think are underappreciated,” Ravizza said. “So we like to educate about them.”

The education of events sponsored by XXS typically happen from mid-spring to early fall. XSS relays the importance of the bees and the pollination process to students, as well as an oppurtunity to view Franzen and her husband during the beekeeping process. 

Newswire photo by Caroline Steiger
Xavier’s NEXUS community gardens have hosted bee hives for the last three years. Dr. Emily Franzen and her husband are tasked with upkeeping the hives.

“We are so fortunate Professor Franzen has continually shared her vast knowledge and expertise on the bees,” senior XSS member Jaime Misky said.

The most recent XSS bee event happened last Wednesday, featuring a honey collection. 

“Professor Franzen always shares some of the bees’ creation, whether it is in the form of honey-infused juice or raw honey from the comb,” Misky said. Most of the honey is then collected and sold locally.

There has also been recent talk among Franzen and the XSS about beeswax collected from the hives being used to make candles. A possible future event proposed between the professor and the club would see Franzen bringing in the wax and having students create and shape the candles themselves.

The beekeeping events are also used to highlight the NEXUS community garden. 

“Basically, the bees are there to pollinate the garden and the wildflowers that are around it,” Ravizza stated. “We do events so people can learn about bees but also know that the community garden is a resource available to students.”

While NEXUS has taken precautions to protect both worker and queen bees year round, Professor Franzen and the students of XSS both believe that there are things Xavier students and faculty can do to help bee populations around the world. 

Newswire photo by Caroline Steiger
Events at the hives range from Sustainability Club gatherings to beekeeping events for the public. The most recent event happened last Wednesday.

“My main hope is that people learn more about the importance of pollination to our food supply and do things that help not only honeybees, but also our incredibly diverse native bee population,” Franzen said. 

“There are some areas on campus that are native wildlife of Ohio, and if we had more of that on campus, it would further promote bee pollination,” Ravizza explained. Meanwhile, Misky affirmed the idea of growing more native plantlife and wildflowers to encourage pollination. 

“Purchasing honey from local vendors instead of grocery stores ensures you are supporting small, locally-owned honey businesses,” Misky added.

Franzen has loved sharing her bees with the student population.

“I always tell people that it’s a very rewarding hobby, and it would be great to see more people start keeping bees,” she said. 

“The most important lesson is patience. You can’t make bees work faster or keep them from all harm. All you can do is try to make it the best apiary you can and hope they can do the rest with help from you.”