The Green Roof Garden on top of the Geography-Geology building at the University of Georgia has flourished since 2007, hosting not only a productive fruit and vegetable garden, but also a pollinator garden full of native plants. But when Joshua Grier, a senior Biology major, visited the garden with one of his classes, he noticed a lack of bees, one of the most important pollinators.
Grier grew up working with his grandparents’ bees and wanted to connect his knowledge of beekeeping with his Campus Sustainability Grant project. Grier’s project will bring honeybee hives to the Green Roof Garden so the bees can pollinate local plants and serve as an educational and research opportunity for the campus community.
“What I really love about the rooftop of Geography-Geology is that it’s accessible to the public,” Grier said.
Grier is hoping to unite students and faculty from all academic fields, from biology professors to business students who can learn entrepreneurial skills related to urban agriculture. Grier also plans to kickstart a UGA Honey Bee club to unite people who love bees and spread more information about the importance of honeybees as pollinators.
Rooftop gardens are becoming more common throughout major cities because they allow for the growth of crops on limited amounts of space. The Green Roof Garden at UGA has the additional advantage of being centrally located on campus, making it more accessible to students and faculty.
Bees are extremely important pollinators and are crucial to the growth of most fruits and vegetables, and some estimates say one-third of the food we eat relies on pollinators to grow.
Bees have faced many threats to their numbers over the years, such as mites, pesticides, Colony Collapse Disorder, monocultures and climate change. Grier’s project aims to boost honeybee health right on UGA’s campus. Grier said the health of bees is supported by people taking an interest in them.
“The more people that have their hands in it, the more people are going to be passionate about it and the more we can prevent things from happening,” Grier said.
The rooftop will be buzzing soon, as the bees settle into their new home and start pollinating the spring flowers.
Written by Jordan Meaker