Rhode Island College to hold dedication marking new beekeeping initiative, August 15 

James Murphy, RIC's sustainability coordinator, is suited up for his interaction with honeybees.
Rhode Island College continues its comprehensive efforts to promote sustainable living and protect the environment by establishing a beekeeping program in partnership with the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association (RIBA). The college has become the first institution of higher learning in the state to host beehives, which have been donated by the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the college’s new beekeeping project will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 10 a.m. on the East Campus between Buildings 7 and 8, at the location of RIC’s two beehives. Refreshments will be served in the Forman Center (Building 11) conference room immediately following the ribbon cutting.

Rhode Island College President Nancy Carriuolo stated, “I am proud that Rhode Island College is taking another step forward in its ongoing efforts to promote green initiatives and assist in the collective work to safeguard our most treasured asset – our environment.”

Carriuolo continued, “By fostering a culture of sustainability among students, faculty and the community at-large, we are doing our part to create a brighter future for generations to come. I would like to thank Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, Richard Lobban and the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association for their generosity and for sharing their expertise with us. I would also like to extend my gratitude to all who have helped bring us to where we stand today.”

The hive's queen bee has been marked for identification.
Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, secretary of the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association and professor emerita of anthropology at Rhode Island College who proposed establishing the beekeeping program said, “Good ideas must be matched with good leadership in order to move forward. Many key leaders at RIC have made this personal dream a reality. Coupling the art of practical beekeeping with public education, research, urban gardens and farmers markets, along with sustainability initiatives is a perfect complement to RIC's historic and evolving mission."

“Honeybees pollinate one-third of all the food that humans consume,” said James Murphy ’07, RIC’s first ever sustainability coordinator. “To grow local food, we need bees to do their job and pollinate local crops. It is our goal to create a beekeeping program that will enable our students to acquire knowledge and experience in this critical field.”

Murphy, who came to Rhode Island College in September 2008 as an instructor in RIC’s Outreach Programs for adult learners, took on the duties of sustainability coordinator in late March. He is a member of the college’s Green Team and is working with RIC undergraduates to re-establish the environmental club. In addition, he oversees the RIC Community Garden, located on grounds adjacent to the college.

Bees congregate at one of the two hives on campus.
“Through this innovative partnership with the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association, students and area residents have already had an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge about urban beekeeping,” Murphy said. “The Southside Community Land Trust recently held a beekeeping workshop using RIC’s beehives for a demonstration and hour-long lecture. I am pleased that several Rhode Island College students participated in this event. Going forward, RIC students will be able to conduct independent research on honeybees and benefit from professional workshops.”

Rhode Island College is one of several institutions of higher learning to establish beekeeping programs. Some others include Bristol Community College in Massachusetts, the universities of Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri as well as Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania and Albion College in Michigan.

Beekeeping is an activity that has implications has across a variety of academic disciplines including nursing, psychology, anthropology, economics, environmentalism and agriculture to name just a few.

For more information, contact James Murphy, RIC sustainability coordinator at (401) 456-8799 or jmurphy2@ric.edu.