Bee-Education Project Takes Flight

honeybeeBees will find a home on campus next year as part of our sustainability efforts.

FIT Hives, a bee-education project developed by students Shona Neary, a Fine Arts major and Sarah Langenbach, a Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing major, will set up an actual  bee hive here on campus next semester.

“FIT has many of industry’s future creators, so it is important to make the community at FIT think about where they get their supplies and resources,” Sarah said. The team’s bee-education message is that “everything is connected” and the use natural products in cosmetics helps “sustain a full-circle loop in our economy.”

Shona and Sarah recently presented FIT Hives at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) held this year at the University of California in Berkeley. Sarah described the meeting as “an incredible experience,” adding that “CGIU facilitated idea sharing, provided skill-building workshops, and hosted many compelling and fascinating speakers.”

Sarah Langenbach and Shōna Neary
Sarah Langenbach and Shōna Neary at NYC’s Bee Village in Battery Park

The project is first funded through our Innovation Grant program, launched in 2015 from FIT’s Office of Academic Affairs, with help from the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success and the FIT Student Association. The grants support collaborative projects that cross academic disciplines and stretch intellectual and artistic boundaries.

In addition to meeting those criteria, Sarah and Shona’s project is timely. Apis mellifera Linnaeus, commonly known as the honeybee, is under severe threat from “colony collapse disorder.” Scientists have put forth a range of theories for the cause of the disorder, ranging from environmental factors to the use of new, potentially dangerous pesticides.

You might be surprised to learn that, as though in response to the threat to bees, New York City has become a “hive” of urban beekeeping activity. As of 2014, more than 250 honeybee hives had been registered with the city, according to The New York Times. So, Sarah and Shona have ready bee resources here in the city as they decide on a campus location for the hive and work to find an experienced bee keeper to care for the hive year-round.

green roof
Sourcing a possible location for a hive on one of FIT’s green roofs.

The grant also supports a documentary focused on bees in the environment with an emphasis on the fine arts and cosmetics industries. Max Hechtman and Shoshana Rabinowitz, students in our Film and Media program, will assist in the creation of the documentary, which will be shown to the campus community early in the 2016 fall semester.

I am so pleased to see the creative and innovative approaches our students bring to all issues, and I look forward to watching FIT Hives blossom here at home and out beyond the borders of FIT.

» See more photos and learn more about the project at the FIT HIVES Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FITHIVES/

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