A swarm of honeybees that have inhabited a Silver Maple Tree outside Churchill Hall won’t be leaving anytime soon, nor will the warning signs surrounding the tree be removed. A beehive that is nested fifteen feet up in the maple, according to Southern Oregon University Landscape officials, was noticed a couple weeks ago but has not been recognized as an imminent threat to the campus.
“As far as I am concerned the Honey Bees are content with living in that Silver Maple Tree and I plan to leave them alone,” said Mike Oxendine SOU’s Landscape Services Supervisor in an email. As a recognized Bee Campus, the university is required to follow strict guidelines that promote the protection and overall benefit of pollinators.
“SOU is the first Bee Campus USA in the country and we got there because we care about pollinators,” said Oxendine who is comfortable with leaving the beehive untouched due to the minimal threat it poses to students. Since last year the landscaping department has planted five pesticide-free pollinator gardens on campus incorporating native, pollinator friendly plants, in accordance with principles set by the Bee City USA program.
In addition to being a certified Bee Campus, SOU is also certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation meaning it is committed to providing the four basic habitat elements needed for wildlife to thrive: food, water, cover, and places to raise their young. Therefore, unless the beehive has proven to be a danger to students, the university should be dedicated to protecting it.
The attitude towards earth’s pollinators appears to resonate with the entire campus, or at least the majority, as there has not been a single student interviewed that was upset or opposed to the idea of having an active beehive on campus. “Fine by me,” said Nicole Garcia, an SOU student. “I don’t see why I should have a problem with it.”
According to Oxendine, those individuals allergic to bee stings “should practice responsible prevention and carry an epipen or protect themselves in other ways.” Honey bees are generally peaceful and docile species and are not known to harm anyone unless disturbed first. If someone with allergies is stung, SOU’s health officials are prepared to handle it.
“We are definitely fully equipped to treat people who are allergic and need treatment,” said Lisa Clayton, a family nurse practitioner working at SOU’s Health and Wellness Center who has treated those suffering from anaphylaxis reactions in the past.
For now, signs and caution tape stand as a warning to those who may be affected by the bees, as their new home in the Silver Maple tree seems like it may be a permanent one.