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A spirit that is not afraid

'Auburn For Bees' club speaks for the bees

Auburn For Bees is an organization of students on campus that speak for the bees.

Kressie Kornis, junior in English literature, is the president and founder of Auburn for Bees. She said the organizations’ main goal is to raise awareness and education about bees.

“Especially since we aren’t science or biology majors, simply beginning a conversation is the most important thing that we do,” Kornis said.

Auburn for Bees began in the fall of 2016 with an idea, and by spring of 2017, there was a group of people interested. The organization now has a total of 83 members, but applications will open soon, and the group hopes to increase their numbers.

Kornis said she started the organization after watching youtube videos about bees. She realized there should be an organization representing bees on campus, and the idea was born.

“So then that’s when I started planning and getting together people with similar interests because I had no idea either just how important they are,” Kornis said.

Auburn for Bees is under provisional status but hopes to become a full-fledged club by the end of the semester.

One current goal of the group is their new program, Beeducation.

Beeducation is a program in which Auburn students will be going into Auburn City schools and teaching children about bees.

Hannah Burke, senior in elementary education, is the director of education for the organization and has been in charge of the new program.

“I’d like to create some lasting relationships with the schools in the county and potentially expand to higher education, like high-schools and colleges,” Burke said.

The program will have four subtopics which can be broken into mini lessons, Burke said.

Some example topics would include what bees are and what they do, as well as how they are important for pollination.

“If we didn’t have bees then we wouldn’t have stuff like cotton, we wouldn’t have blue jeans, we wouldn’t have many of our favorite fruits and nuts and vegetables, and it would just completely change the way we live today,” Burke said.

The students in Auburn City Schools will have opportunities for hands-on projects to help them learn. The program will include a simulation teaching about what would happen without bees as well as crafts for the children.

Assistant professor Geoffrey Williams, with the entomology department, is the club’s advisor.

Through Williams and the entomology department, the group has plans to work in the lab this semester.

They hope to be able to don suits and actually see the bees close up, Kornis said.

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“I’m hoping that it will help the members who aren’t in necessarily a science major learn more … and I think that will really help us with our Beeducation to actually share what we’ve seen,” Kornis said.

The group has several long-term and short-term goals.

“We do want to have a plot in Auburn’s community garden and plant flowers that attract bees,” Kornis said. “That’s something we’re going to start planning together as a group this semester.”

At least once a month “Auburn for Bees” can be found on the concourse advocating for bees. They will hand out promotional items and spark a conversation to keep people informed.

“Just talking to complete strangers about bees,” Kornis said. “That’s really rewarding to me to talk to someone who maybe is afraid of bees, or they have an allergy so they’ve never really been around bees. It’s been fun to have conversations with these people.”

Many students and people are not aware of the benefits of bees, Kornis said. Once they are informed, however, they realize the importance of the organism.

Burke referred to the bee as the “super-organism.”

Kornis recently brought attention to her organization when a tweet she sent out went viral.

In her profile picture, Kornis stands holding a sign that reads, “Ask me about bees,” and she is next to Burke who is holding a sticker that says, “Sit Down, Bee Humble.”

People began asking her where they could receive a sticker, and she replied that they were free and could send them to anyone who sent her an address.

“Thousands came in, and I realized we can’t send all of these people stickers because stamps are like 50 cents each, so I asked for a donation of any amount, and now we are sending stickers to those people who donated,” Kornis said.

“It’s definitely been exciting to see our stickers on random people’s laptops, people who aren’t in our club, because that means they actually went up to us and had a discussion with us about bees,” Kornis said.

Kornis wants students to be aware that bees on campus will not harm or sting them.

“I would like students to know especially since the spring season is approaching, that if a bee lands on you when you’re walking to class, don’t freak out, it’s fine, they just like the way you smell or the color that you’re wearing,” Kornis said. “Bees are really smart, they will figure out that you’re not a flower, and they will fly away.”

Overall, the organization is about raising awareness for the bees and hoping people will spread the information they learn with their friends, Kornis said.

“I believe that often times bees are kind of vilified, they’re lumped in with wasps and other scary things,” Burke said. “People think all they do is sting, where in fact they are responsible for many of our modern conveniences.”

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