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Environment

MSU Dedicates New Space On Campus To The Research And Protection Of Pollinators

bees climb around a bee box and the frame of a bee hive
MSU moved several bee colonies from across the state to the center.

Michigan State University’s work to protect and study pollinators has gone on without a base of operations on campus. Now, there’s a new center devoted to bees. 

MSU is redesigning a building on the south side of campus formerly used for indoor animal air quality research, into a location for pollinator studies, teaching, equipment storage and outreach.

Through a partnership with the Department of Entomology, MSU AgBio Research and MSU Extension, the Pollinator Performance Center is an on-campus space for pollinator-related activities.

MSU Extension Apiculture Educator, Ana Heck, says having a centralized place of study will make her work easier.

“We used to be kind of spread out in different parts of campus, working from different buildings, but the center is going to be really nice because it’s going to be a hub of our pollinator outreach and extension education initiatives," she said.

In the fall of 2020, the university moved its honey bee colonies from an MSU Extension office and apiary in Lake City to the center. Colonies from the MSU Entomology Farm were added in the spring of 2021.

“We use them for hands-on education for beekeepers as well as to provide updates for beekeepers about what's going on in our colonies and what we’re doing to manage them.”

The Pollinator Performance Center also includes 15 acres of land that will be used for field experiments. 

“We have a lot of research right now looking at European foulbrood which is a bacterial disease that affects developing honey bee brood. There’s also a specialty crop research initiative grant that is looking at honey bees pollinating blueberries and how to improve pollination in blueberries and honey bee health.”

In May, staff from MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities planted several hundred trees and wildflowers around the perimeter of the center to act as a wind barrier and food source for pollinators.

Heck says there’s no set timeline for the opening of the building,

“I think the plans for the building are phased," she said.

"One of our first priorities is to get a honey extraction facility put into this building, so we’re looking at different honey extractors so we can process our own MSU honey. And then after that there’s some other goals and plans.”

That includes hosting trainings for MSU Extension’s Heroes to Hives program which provides beekeeper training for veterans. The center will also need to get state approval before processing honey.

McKoy's story is brought to you as part of a partnership between WKAR and Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

Correction: A previous version of this story contained the headline: "MSU Dedicates New Space On Campus To Research And Protection Of Pollinators." It has been updated.

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