If it were down to the Erasmus Sustainability Hub, a ‘bees’ palace’ would be opened next to the tennis courts in Park Noord this summer. The design sketches are ready, but the Executive Board still has to approve them.
The ‘bees’ palace’ is a small, open building measuring five by seven metres, which will accommodate a few beehives, an insect hotel and a work place. The plan is to site the building between the tennis courts and the campus’ northern exit on the Kralingse Zoom, opposite the G building.
Before the bees are allowed to come, the Executive Board wants to know whether there is enough support on the campus for a bee hotel. During the Erasmus Bee Week, at the beginning of April, the Hub tried to increase the level of support. Dressed up in bee costumes, volunteers rode delivery bicycles through the campus encouraging people to vote for the bee hotel.
The aim was to secure a thousand votes, ultimately the figure was about six hundred. “Consequently, even though the week is over, we’re carrying the promotion on, during breaks, for example,” said Nada van Schouwenburg from the Sustainability Hub immediately after the Bee Week.
Thanks to the extra activities, the number of votes is currently well above a thousand, added Jon de Ruijter, also from the Hub. Now, it’s up to the Executive Board to make a decision. What’s important is that the bee building is ready by the middle of July, emphasised De Ruijter. “If not, there’s no point and we’ll have to delay it all another year. This is due to the bees’ mating time.” De Ruijter thinks there’s a ‘fifty-fifty’ chance that the palace will be ready this summer.
There are various plans for the funding of the luxury bee accommodation. “It’s possible that part of it will be paid for out of the Park Noord project. It’s also possible that we raise some money through crowdfunding. Or that people can buy shares in the bees’ palace, and have their dividends paid out in the form of ‘campus honey’,” De Ruijter said, pondering the possibilities. “One way or the other, we’ll manage it,” he resolved optimistically.
The proposed beekeeper of the bees’ palace, or the ‘Bee Building’ as she refers to it, is Babs Verploegh, a member of Rotterdam School of Management’s staff and the person who originally came up with the plan to keep bees. She wants to do this in an organic way, which means that the bees have to be left alone as much as possible. Consequently, very little honey will be collected.
The first step is to catch a swarm of bees, and that has to be done by the middle of June at the latest, otherwise it will be very unlikely for it to happen this year. And there must be a specific building for them because, subsequently, you can’t just move the bees again, added Verploegh. “If you move bees fifty metres, they’ll simply fly back to where they came from. The only way to move them again is to move them to a place which is at least six kilometres away.”
Verploegh described the way she wants to keep the bees: “I want the bees to be bees. Who knows, it may encourage students to take an interest in bees but, in the first instance, it’s about the wellbeing of the bees themselves. Although I do hope other people play a part. Maybe there’s someone who’d like to become a beekeeper.” The members of Passing Shot tennis club don’t have to worry about being stung according to Verploegh. “Bees do absolutely nothing. You only run the chance of being stung if you open a hive. In my kitchen garden, there’s a hive about two metres away and nothing has ever happened to me.”