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Bruin Beekeepers build brand-new beehive in Botanical Garden

(Daily Bruin file photo) The Bruin Beekeepers, an organization that aims to educate students about the native bee population and environmental sustainability, held an event at the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden.

By Elyssa Smith

March 10, 2019 11:18 p.m.

A student beekeeping group installed UCLA’s first student-made beehive on campus Friday.

The Bruin Beekeepers at UCLA, an organization that aims to educate students about the native bee population and environmental sustainability, held an event at the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden to install a hive they had been building since the organization was founded in May.

Samiksha Chopra, the internal vice president of Bruin Beekeepers, said the group took almost a year to build the hive because they wanted to ensure the project would be sustainable.

“We could do any easy way out for this and just buy a hive online, but we wanted to feel like it was our own project,” Chopra said.

Chancellor Gene Block attended the hive installation event. Jonathan Fox, president and founder of the Bruin Beekeepers, said he had told Block about the significance of the hive during Block’s student office hours.

“(Installing the hive) is an action that represents that the student body at UCLA is committed to sustainability and committed to ecological conservation,” Fox said.

Attendees at the event were allowed to install a portion of the hive in the botanical gardens.

Jacob Wechsler, a first-year physiological science student, said being able to take part in the installation allowed him to feel like he was able to contribute to the Bruin Beekeepers’ efforts.

The hive is designed to resemble a high-rise apartment rather than a typical hive structure, Fox said.

“A lot of leaf-cutter bees and mason bees actually need little nooks and crannies that are the right centimeter width and depth,” Chopra said. “What we’ve basically done is we’ve provided them with these homes, so they don’t have to look around for them.”

Frank Zhou, the presidential intern of the Bruin Beekeepers, said the club hopes to promote ecological diversity and environmental sustainability.

“This group is focused on the nativist aspect of beekeeping, so we want to help the native pollinators of California,” Zhou said. “We help out the native plants as well because they can co-evolve with each other.”

Fox said the group hopes to encourage students to learn more about bees through hands-on interaction with the insects.

“The whole greater purpose of this club is to just get students to recognize the importance of bees,” Fox said. “I think the best way to do that is to actually work with them hands on.”

Fox said students do not need to worry about getting stung by the bees on campus because native leaf-cutter bees are less aggressive than nonnative honey bees.

Chopra said the club plans to eventually install beehives on the Hill to encourage student interaction.

“We all take so much pride in how beautiful our campus is and that’s due to the fact that we have bees on campus who can pollinate our trees, pollinate our flowers and keep that aesthetic that we love going,” Chopra said.

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Elyssa Smith
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