Lately, there has been a lot of news about bees and their recent endangerment status. Honey Bunches of Oats recently removed their mascot, Berry the Bee, from boxes to raise awareness for the growing issue. Austin Rankin and the Honey Bee Club, an organization on the UF campus, plans to make waves in this topic. Due to the little knowledge many people have on this topic and the club itself, Her Campus UFL decided to ask the club president some questions.
Name: Austin Rankin
Major: Sustainability & the Built Environment
Year in school: Sophomore
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
HerCampus (HC): What is the name and primary objective of the bee organization you are president of?
Austin Rankin (AR): I am the president of The Honey Bee Club (we really went all out with the creativity on that one). We strive to educate both students and the general public about the importance of honey bees (and all pollinators) in terms of ecological value, economic value and cultural importance.
(HC): How did you come to find out about and join this organization?
(AR): I volunteered at the UF Honey Bee Research Lab’s (HBREL) annual extension program, “Bee College,” which teaches local beekeepers everything bee-related. That’s where I heard about the club.
(HC): How did you become so invested in bees and what draws you to this cause?
(AR): Funny story, actually. I used to be afraid of wasps and bees and wanted to get over that fear. I figured the best way to do that was by exposure. Then, the more I learned about honey bees, the more I fell in love with them. They are an incredibly complex and intricate creature, and it’s almost meditative to open up a hive and listen to them buzz.
(HC): What was the main reason you felt that UF needed to become more bee-aware on campus?
(AR): The HBREL does a really good job with bee research and is one of the top research facilities in the country, but I feel that they don’t take this out into the general student population as well as a student organization could.
(HC): Are there any other organizations or substantial causes you are a part of?
(AR): We were trying to raise awareness for people to support the “Build the Bee Lab” campaign at UF, which has been successful since they are now drawing up plans for it. The lab is going to be super nice, and I think they are trying to establish a beekeeping major, which will prepare people for a career in commercial beekeeping.
(HC): Do you have an ultimate goal for the club?
(AR): Our ultimate goal is to continue doing hive demonstrations (where we open up a live beehive to teach people about them), but also to plant pollinator gardens around the UF campus and the Gainesville community. We now have our own hive, so some honey tastings and wax crafts are in store for the future as well!
(HC): Is this organization just a side hobby for you? If not, has it influenced your future or career goals in any way?
(AR): I definitely want to continue to grow the club and expand it, but I think beekeeping will remain a hobby that I will do throughout my life. I highly encourage anybody who is thinking about it to start up a hive. If you have an hour or two to spare once a week, you can maintain a beehive.
Photo Credits: Austin Rankin