USF Green Changemaker Spotlight: Craig Petersen, Director of Operations, Facilities Management
Craig Petersen, Director of Operation, Facilities Management played a leadership role in launching USF’s new beehive, located in the USF Community Garden. When asked what sparked his interested in bees, Craig responded, “I was always fascinated by bees and appreciate their social/communal behavior.” Craig was reading about the plight of the honeybee as it struggles to survive in an environment full of pollution, pesticides, predators, and a variety of diseases and disorders. “I believe bees are often misunderstood and not fully appreciated for the significant impact they have on our food supply through their efforts to pollinate plants,” said Craig.
After reading an article about beekeepers in Australia who had designed a simpler method of harvesting honey, Craig pitched the idea of introducing beekeeping to USF. With support from his boss and several faculty and staff members who keep bees at home, the USF purchased and installed a Flow Hive beehive. The beehive is intended to allow faculty, staff, and students to learn more about bees, beekeeping, the associated equipment and the process of honey manufacturing and harvesting.
In many ways, the USF beehive mirrors the rollercoaster ride that beekeepers around the world are facing. USF’s first colony had a queen that was not a very prolific egg layer. Therefore, that colony could not sustain itself. But as that colony was faltering, a USF colleague captured a swarm in her neighborhood and gave it to USF in late Spring 2016. The new queen was successfully introduced and the hive is now firmly established, with an estimated 25,000 bees. The queen is a Carniolan and the colony is a mix of Carniolans and Italians. Craig routinely tends them without any veil, gloves, or other protective equipment, exclaiming, “They are extremely docile!”.
Craig believes that maintaining a beehive at USF fully supports the school's mission to help teach socially responsible leaders for the future. He explained, “Observing the beehive and understanding how drought, pollution, and irresponsible use of chemicals impact the hive's ability to survive helps students gain a better understanding of how their actions impact others and the world. Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment challenges all of us to protect our common home through sustainable development. We should be teaching USF students to become sustainability leaders in their communities, professions, and homes.” Craig has a final call to action for the USF Community, “Life is not a spectator sport. Find something you're passionate about and get involved. Go ‘all in’ as the poker players say.”