Geek of the Week

Give Bees a Chance

Joe Murphy, environmental safety manager, nurtures the honey bees that feed us.

What makes you a geek?
I keep bees. Also, I studied biology both in undergraduate and graduate school, so…

Why bees?
If you keep bees, you help feed the world. One in every three mouthfuls of food that we eat require pollination, and bees are world-champion pollinators.

How long have you had a hive on campus?
About four years. Our staff engineers built this hive, and we maintain it here in the community garden. Right now we have around 50,000 bees. The queen is Russian. The workers are Italian; they’re docile and good honey-makers. We got a Russian queen because her offspring resist a mite called Varroa destructor. That little critter is a threat to bees, so it’s a threat to humankind.

What can humans learn from bees?
Work hard. Cooperate. Focus on one task at a time. Honor the queen but also think for yourself. Devote yourself, body and soul, to something that’s bigger than you. Pope Francis says we should all be stewards of the earth. Bees show us that it’s possible to make food from the environment without destroying it.

How can bees change the world?
They can change the world by saving it. Bees have a hive mind, where their actions contribute to the greater good. I think they’re a great example of what humanity can achieve.

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