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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been designated a Bee Campus USA. It’s a national effort among colleges and universities to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators and provide new and improved pollinator habitats.

Bee campuses commit to:

  • Establishing a campus committee that advocates for pollinators
  • Creating and enhancing pollinator habitats
  • Displaying educational signage on pollinator conservation
  • Offering courses or other educational opportunities on pollinator conservation
  • Maintaining an online description of pollinator projects and activities

With UT’s designation, it joins 98 campuses certified by the Bee Campus USA organization.

Pollinators and Sustainability

After Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor of Facilities Services, challenged the landscape team to pursue the Bee Campus designation, Landscape Services began working with the Sustainability Team and the Facilities Design Team.

UT has committee members from the Herbert College of Agriculture, UT Extension, Geography and Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology. This team from across campus has come together to make life better for pollinators at UT through outreach, community engagement, education, and project areas.

During spring 2019, the team designed and planted their first pollinator area in front of Fred D. Brown Jr. Residence Hall. Students, staff, and faculty members joined together to learn about and celebrate pollinators, making for some happy bees.

a summer youth camp instructors teaches kids at UT Gardents
Summer youth campus at UT Gardens teach the value of pollinators.

Pollinators and the UT Gardens

Without bees and other pollinators, we wouldn’t have the amazing diversity of plants that feed and protect us. The UT Gardens is one of many pollinator habitats across campus. With a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers, the UT Gardens provide food and shelter for a wide variety of pollinating insects and other animals.

Workshops and summer youth camps at UT Gardens provide opportunities for community education and engagement that highlight the value of pollinators.

Through a variety of community outreach and education, UT is providing hands-on experience to teach people how pollinators impact their day-to-day lives.

a field of coneflowers at UT's Grow Lab
A field of coneflowers attracts bees at UT’s Grow Lab.

Apiculture and Agriculture

The value of insect-pollinated crops in the U.S. has been estimated to be more than $15 billion. Honey bees pollinate many important crops such as almonds, berries, squash, and melons, just to name a few.

But bees also rely on home gardens for pollen and nectar. Although Tennessee beekeepers have had over 70 percent losses in recent years, by helping educate students and the public, the UT Bee Campus can help reduce that number.

UT’s apiculture program supports the Bee Campus mission through educational opportunities across Tennessee to support pollinators and the beekeeping industry. The university offers master beekeeping classes and talks at UT Field Days.

Get Involved

Supporting the bees and beekeepers helps them support us. You can participate from your backyard, balcony, or even your home office.

If you have a yard, plant a wide variety of plants to attract a wide variety of pollinators. To find pollinator plants specific to your area, visit the Pollinator Partnership’s website.

If you have a balcony or patio, you can use pots or containers. If you’re unable to plant flowering species, consider donating to UT Bee Campus, or another pro-pollinator group