The Class of 2013 Legacy Gift Creates a Buzz on Campus - An Apiary

This year is a little different as far as class gifts go. While other classes have donated their money to different organizations for things like student scholarships, the Class of 2013 is donating an apiary to the school.

What is an apiary, you ask? Its basically a beehive that will be on campus and will bring in educational benefits as well as sustainability. Kristin Wolf is a Core professor and has worked on apiary projects in the Amazon as well as at New Century College at George Mason University. As their apiary grew, Wolf saw the potential for learning that the apiary held. Students would don their bee suits, gather around a busy hive, and immerse themselves in inquiry-based learning. With so many interesting life stages, diverse working roles, and products being produced, the questions never ceased, and a fascinating story of community, cooperation, and natural history was told. This is the same type of experimental learning that she hopes to bring to Champlain College.

Wolf plans on running the apiary on her own in the beginning, as it will be a small and manageable three-hive apiary. As time goes on and the project begins to develop further, she hopes that students and other faculty members will express an interest in helping to manage the apiary.

In her proposal to Champlain College, Krisitin Wolf describes how the apiary will fit into Champlain's curriculum as well as bring forth new opportunities and experiences for all students at Champlain College including:

Experiential Learning Opportunities

An on-campus apiary would provide experiential learning opportunities for many courses currently taught at Champlain. At the most basic level, students could suit-up with the proper personal protective equipment and watch the busy dynamic of a hive as the bees communicate, cooperate, and tend to the daily duties in the hive. To many students, the intensely purposeful way in which bees work the hive will be a complete mystery. This activity lends itself well to inquiry-based learning.

Examples of topics that could be used in the Core Division:

  • Division of labor - bees take on many roles throughout their lives and the survival of the colony depends upon these duties
  • Concepts of altruism - a bee that stings to protect the hive loses her life for that hive
  • The role of the individual in a community - honey bees cannot survive on their own and a hive cannot survive without a queen
  • Gender roles - Just think: a queen-ruled community made up entirely of working females that use males only as sperm-donors, who they promptly eject from the hive in the fall to save resources. Bees certainly provide an interesting alternative community to study.

Cross-Divisional Curriculum Building

An on-campus apiary would also provide the opportunity for cross-divisional programming that enable students to work on a multi-disciplinary team and apply their individual skill-sets and expertise to work on a real-life project that produces a saleable product. Bee-keeping requires scientific, technical, design, marketing, and business knowledge and experience for successful production and having an apiary would provide an excellent living laboratory for such endeavors. Considering the interest that the proposal of this project has already generated in the Core, EHS, ITS, and Business, I see great potential for inter-divisional collaboration.

Community Development Projects in the Amazon

Wolf is currently involved with a project in the Peruvian Amazon that provides apiculture materials and technical training for the Maijuna indigenous people. This project produces bees and bee products for subsistence, trade, and profit and seeks to promote individual and community empowerment, entrepreneurship, and economic self-sufficiency. It has been a successful pilot program, and we hope to extend its reach to other communities in the near future. The project has great potential for Champlain in terms of curriculum development (especially in the third-year), student and faculty research and experiential learning, and in expanding the college's global reach and awareness. With global engagement as a central value to Champlain, community work in the Amazon, with bee-keeping as a vehicle for this work, provides an exciting opportunity to enhance our commitment to this value in an area of the world that the college has yet to explore.

Champlain's Commitment to Sustainability

One of the central values in the Champlain College 2020 Strategic Plan is sustainability. A campus apiary is a unique endeavor that contributes to this institutional commitment. Much in the way that the community garden fosters student, faculty, and staff camaraderie in an environmentally-responsible manner, the Champlain apiary would bring these parties together to care for and learn about the honey bee though hive management and harvest.

About 2K42M:

If 2,000 alumni or 2013 graduates make a gift to Champlain by June 30, 2013, the Stiller Family Foundation will contribute $2 million to the College. That means that your gift, of any size, will be matched with $1,000.By participating in our 2K 4 2M challenge, you are turning individual generosity into collective energy for the direct support of today's students and tomorrow's leaders. Your involvement creates a tangible bond with Champlain College and ensures our long term success and stability.

We have 700 gifts to go before June 30, 2013 and its important to remember — Participation = Impact. Click here to make your gift today!

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit