Indiana State Museum buzzing with new educational opportunity

By Nicole Hernandez
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — An audible buzz can now be heard around the Indiana State Museum.

The beehive arrived in June of last year. Since then, the museum has even expanded honey beehive locations to state historic sites like Angel Mounds in Evansville and the Gene Stratton Porter Memorial site in Rome City.

Photo provided by the Indiana State Museum Director of Media, Bruce Williams.

Photo provided by the Indiana State Museum Director of Media, Bruce Williams.

“[The Museum CEO] really wanted to make sure that we were telling the story of how bees are in decline and how it’s so important to our food that we have them,” said Susan Dyar, vice president of visitor experience at the Indiana State Museum.

According to reports from the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the honeybee population is declining because of the use of pesticides and other various factors.

Honeybees are not native to the United States, making the decline in population even more problematic. Dyar said honeybees are especially important for pollinating the plants that grow three-fourths of the fruits and vegetables we eat.

Photo provided by the Indiana State Museum Director of Media, Bruce Williams.

Photo provided by the Indiana State Museum Director of Media, Bruce Williams.

“We’re not going to be eating if [bees] aren’t around,” said Dyar. “If we can make anybody even the least bit aware, then the museum is doing what we should be doing and since Indiana is an agricultural state, we really need that.”

So what can we do to help preserve the honeybee population?

Dyar recommends we all reduce the use of pesticides and spraying our yards. Dyar also urges Hoosiers to plant more maple trees and other flowers and plants that attract bees.

Photo provided by the Indiana State Museum Director of Media, Bruce Williams.

Photo provided by the Indiana State Museum Director of Media, Bruce Williams.

Dyar said it’s a natural reaction for most people who see bees to want to swat them away or if there’s a hive near homes and living quarters to spray the hive and kill the bees. But she says there’s a much simpler reaction. Just leave the bees alone. Dyar said bees have no intention of stinging humans or harming them as long as they don’t feel threatened. Stinging a person is a last resort for bees because once they sting, they die too, Dyar explained.

Photo provided by the Indiana State Museum Director of Media, Bruce Williams.

Photo provided by the Indiana State Museum Director of Media, Bruce Williams.

Dyar recommends that if you happen to have a swarm of bees hanging from your mailbox or somewhere around your home, the best thing to do is call a bee inspector so that they can transport and preserve the bee colony.

“We will actually do better with keeping more bees if we have more people with one or two hives and fewer of the commercial honeybee keepers who have thousands of hives,” said Dyar. “It’s actually better to have more people keeping one hive in their yard, that’s actually going to do more for them because then more people are aware and that’s just a healthier bee population.”

The Indiana State Museum has set up signs with bee facts near the safe viewing area inside the museum and outside in the museum’s garden area to help educate visitors. By Nicole Hernandez, TheStatehouseFile.com

The Indiana State Museum has set up signs with bee facts near the safe viewing area inside the museum and outside in the museum’s garden area to help educate visitors.
Photo by Nicole Hernandez, TheStatehouseFile.com

The museum has also begun setting up signs with bee facts near the safe viewing area inside the museum and outside in the garden area to help educate visitors.

For now Dyar says the bees are here to stay and the museum will host them indefinitely.

Nicole Hernandez is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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