July 18, 2024

UT becomes “bee certified”

University of Tennessee, Knoxville students and staff celebrate becoming a Bee Campus. The Office of Sustainability provides attendees with information about the importance of bees and pollinator plants.

On April 26, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the “Make Orange Green” campaign hosted an event at Fred D. Brown Jr. Residence Hall called the “Bee Campus Celebration.”

This event honored UT’s effort to become a Bee Campus Certified University. They partnered with the Bee City USA campaign which, according to their website, works in fostering, “ongoing dialogue to raise awareness of the role pollinators play in our communities and what each of us can do to provide them with healthy habitat.”

Activities at the celebration included: A ceremony featuring UT students and staff, free food and the opportunity to plant various pollinator plants.

What is a Bee Campus?

According to the Bee City website, a Bee Campus “… endorses a set of commitments, defined in an application, for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators, which are vital to feeding the planet.”

In terms of the UT campus, Dr. Jennifer Tsuruda from the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology notes that students are an important part to creating a Bee Campus:

“Part of it [becoming a Bee Campus] is creating a habitat plan that helps in creating a campus that is inviting and supportive and also providing education classes and workshops involving students in our plans,” Tsuruda said.

Additionally, UT’s Office of Sustainability has a website that lists seven key requirements on how to officially become a bee-friendly campus. A few of the requirements include: Establishing a committee, developing a Campus Habitat Plan and hosting events and workshops.

Why is this important?

The project’s core values focus on the effects of bees and community awareness. They look at factors such as: Local food production, the environment and the role of bees in the relationship of the planet’s food web. 

“… we just want to make sure we have a campus that is all inclusive to the community, that is bee-friendly and help educate everyone through their everyday practices,” said Dr. Tsuruda.

Some of the plants in the inaugural garden in front of Fred D. Brown Jr. Hall includes: Beebalm, acacia, sweetschrub, ninebark and creeping phlox.

Sam Adams, an arborist involved with the landscaping services at UT, played a big role in the selection of the bee-friendly plants that UT provided at the celebration.

“All of those [inaugural garden plants] are either pollen plants or nectar plants or something in which bees can find use in,” Adams said.

Changes around campus include: New signage, bee gardens, educational programs and collaborations with other departments, such as UT Gardens.

How can people get involved?

The Office of Sustainability provides the public with information about upcoming Green Events at UT. Additionally, information about getting involved with projects and the Green Events is online.


Edited by Ciera Noe and Grace Goodacre 

Featured image by Eleanor Tant