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What We Can
Learn From Bees

Most visitors to campus would never know that two beehives, home to thousands of bees, are up on the roof.

The bees project began with an FIT Innovation Grant awarded to Film and Media student Max Hechtman in 2016. His documentary, FIT Hives: Sustainability—The Secret to Survival, was created to educate students about the importance of bees. In April 2017, Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design student Shona Neary and Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing alumna Sarah Langenbach founded FIT Hives, which was funded by FIT’s Think Big Challenge―a call to students who have an interest in changing the world and tackling real-world problems in innovative ways. Neary and Langenbach teamed up with Honeybee Conservancy―a New York–based nonprofit that builds bee habitats and educates about the importance of the endangered pollinators—and installed two beehives on the green roof between the Goodman and Pomerantz buildings. The Honeybee Conservancy not only maintains the beehives, but also instructs FIT students on how to care for the bees and harvest their honey and beeswax. Students have also organized educational sessions to teach others about the hives and the necessity of bees.

This project synergizes well with FIT’s natural dye garden—another recipient of an Innovation Grant—which serves as one of the closest sources of pollen for the FIT’s bees and bees from elsewhere in the city. Especially in an urban area like New York City, the options for bees to acquire the pollen necessary to make honey and keep their colony strong are severely limited. The synthesis of these projects represents one way FIT is working toward its mission of sustainability by bridging industry and environment.

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