By Kevin Tucker – Communications and Marketing Intern
Norfolk State University has a beautiful campus. Walking from one end to the other, you notice the amazing architectural designs of campus buildings and gorgeous natural scenery.
The numerous trees on the campus make you realize that you’re in a city with a rural-like quality. As in many rural areas, nature can have a wild side to it. Earlier this spring, Norfolk State’s campus experienced that wild side. Students, faculty and staff entering the fine arts building had seen bees flying around the area and the closer they got to the building the more bees they saw. The bees did what bees do . . . created a bee hive and it was causing a problem. Fine arts professor Sam Hughes quickly came up with a resolution that would be beneficial to the bees and the campus. He called Hodgie Holderson, owner of H Bar H Enterprises, a bee removal agency. Holderson brought a fellow beekeeper with him, Janis Doss who was just starting out in the business. Holderson arrived with a big green bucket, and without gloves or a protective suit, stuck his hand inside the beehive. Then he began to effortlessly break off pieces of the hive and put them into his bucket. Once the bucket was full, Holderson and Doss took the bees back to their bee farm so they could produce honey for our community.
By removing the bees and sending them to a place where the community would continue to benefit from their work, the bee swarm incident was a perfect example of the NSU faculty’s teaching philosophy . . . finding solutions . . . turning a negative situation into a positive one.
This was not NSU’s first experience with bees. In the past, the University was quite a popular attraction for bees and for beekeepers. One of Norfolk State’s faculty members, Carrie “Honeybee” Brown, led an organization on campus dedicated to the preservation of bees and spreading knowledge about the insects. The Spartan Beekeepers Club was an official campus organization, which made Norfolk State the first HBCU to have a rooftop apiary — a bee farm on top of a building. Not only was the organization the first of its kind at a historically black institution, but it was also the first of its kind in the city of Norfolk. The club originated in the former School of Science, Engineering and Technology. When Brown found out that students were interested, she gathered the interested students and formed the club.
Spartan Beekeepers had three missions; (1) to help with pollination; (2) provide a living lab for research; and (3) collect and sell honey to make money for scholarship awards. Norfolk State’s apiary was the school’s and city’s best kept secret. The organization was disbanded due to lack of interest and liability issues. For the short time the Spartan Beekeepers were around, they left a legacy for future Spartans to follow — the lesson: to make a difference within your community by doing something you love and enjoy.