Recognition and Reports

Bee Campus USA

Southwestern University is recognized as a Bee Campus USA institution after meeting Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation requirements to be a certified, pollinator-friendly campus.

Bee Campus USA

 Bee Campus USA is an initiative of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation that provides recognition for universities in the U.S. that are committed to preserving local biodiversity. Institution commitments include protecting and advancing pollinator habitats, limiting the use of synthetic pesticides, and engaging in public awareness initiatives.

Southwestern University is the 1st campus of our peer institutions, 7th campus in the state of Texas, and 87th campus in the nation to have attained Bee Campus USA certification.

Contact us:

BEE-Co & Bee Campus Social Media:


  • BEE-Co (Beekeeping Engagement and Education Community) was created for SU students to pique interest in bees and beekeeping, to grow knowledge on pollinators’ importance, to instill life-long pollinator-focused sustainability practices in Southwestern students, and to fulfill SU’s Bee Campus USA commitments. It is a student organization founded by Layla Hoffen ’26 (Bee Campus USA representative) in Fall of 2023, where students learn how to keep bees on the EcoLab (SU’s outdoor ecological research site), learn about native pollinators and how to sustain their habitats, and spread beneficial insect awareness through public events. All of the below mentioned awareness events, service-learning projects, and education opportunities have been hosted by BEE-Co students!

    In October 2023, the Sustainability Committee approved a $5,000 grant to build a teaching apiary on the EcoLab. This apiary was constructed by Layla Hoffen ’26, completed March 2024. The teaching apiary includes an equipment shed, a screened-in observation deck, and a fenced-in enclosure with room to host 10 hives.

    Currently, BEE-Co owns 9 hives, all of which were rescue removals from colonies living in campus buildings, and locally, in the Georgetown community, or generously donated from Round Rock Honey Company and Bee Salty.

  • Southwestern University’s Sustainability Committee has taken oversight over Bee Campus USA, to ensure that Southwestern continues to follow its guidelines and apply for renewal each year. 

    Interested in the committee? Questions? Contact:

    Dr. Laura Hobgood- Co-chair of Sustainability Committee,

    Jenny Roberts- Co-chair of Sustainability Committee, 

    Bee Campus USA requires all certified campuses to have their least-toxic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan and Native Plant List with regional sources publicly available. Southwestern University’s IPM and Native Plant List are available below.

    Integrated Pest Management Plan

    Native Plant List

  • Affiliates should host courses, both for-credit and co-curricular, that educate students about pollinators’ roles in the environment and introduce ways to sustain them.


    EcoLab Picnic, 4.24.24- BEE-Co and SEAK (Students for Environmental Knowledge and Activism) invited the SU community to the apiary for a picnic to celebrate Earth Week. BEE-Co brought fresh honey and strawberries, and explained to students the ancient beekeepers’ tradition of “Telling the Bees.”

    Intro to Bees & Beekeeping, 2.22.24 & 3.6.24- Both interested students and selected beekeepers in BEE-Co attended “101” classes about bee types, behaviors, and roles, as well as basic beekeeping skill-building sessions before getting into the hives.

    Native TX Bees’ Ice Cream Parlor & Habitat-making, 2.1.2024- BEE-Co hosted a meeting where Layla Hoffen ’26 (Bee Campus Student Representative) and local Georgetown beekeeper Sarah Denman (Bee Salty) discussed different native bees, how to identify them, ways to support them in your own backyard, and how native leafcutting bees inadvertently help make ice cream. Students then helped make native bee houses for the EcoLab out of SU garden’s bamboo shoots, newspaper, and recycled aluminum cans. 


    12 October 2023

    Gardening FYS Native Pollinators Class at the Garden, 10/12/2023- To educate Dr. Jennie DeMarco’s Urban Gardening FYS students, Layla Hoffen (Bee Campus USA student representative) discussed different types of native bees and butterflies, and how to sustain them in your own garden. Students were given native host plants and nectar sources to plant, bee watering pools, and butterfly puddling stations, and were tasked to “sponsor” a native pollinator in each of their gardens with the materials provided. Students also were introduced to beekeeping and its importance.

    For-credit Pollinator Education Courses

    The following courses have included lessons about the importance of pollinators:

    BIO50-434 Ecology - This class explores the interactions of organisms with their biotic and abiotic environment. In particular, the course looks at the influence of nutrients, climate, competition, predation, and symbiotic relationships on individuals, populations, and communities.

    ENV49-284 Sustainable Food And Agriculture - This course offers an interdisciplinary perspective on the environmental, economic, and cultural relationship between producers and consumers in the global food network. 

    BIO50-194 Science Of Chocolate - This course explores the biology and chemistry of Theobroma cacao, the plant from which people make chocolate. Topics include pollination ecology, genetics, antioxidants and health, and climate change. 

    UST05-014-20 From Farm to Table: How Food Impacts Our Planet - This seminar explores the complicated journey of our food from farm to table. Topics include modern agriculture, food production issues, the ecological footprint and health effects of various foods, and the links between food choices, climate change, and planetary health.

    Additionally, the SU community garden and greenhouse is a place for students, faculty, and staff to learn about natural gardening practices. Frequent garden workdays and workshops provide the opportunity for SU community members to learn about the importance of pollinators.

  • Campuses are required to host at least one event annually to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and to acknowledge the institution’s certification as a Bee Campus USA institution. Past events are described below:


    Garden Yoga and Butterfly Release, 4.26.24- As part of Earth Week, Garden Club and BEE-Co hosted sunset yoga behind the greenhouse, led by Dr. Vanessa Mikan. Afterwords, Layla Hoffen ’26 led a tour of the Monarch Waystation, explaining the value of host plants and nectar sources, and administered 20 Painted Lady butterflies for release.

    Sustainability Tabling, 4.6.2024- Garden Club President Sydney Strange and BEE-Co President Layla Hoffen welcomed potential incoming students at the admitted student day organization fair, and at the “Sweet Surprise” during Earth Week. Students who could spot the queen got to try a spoonful of honey!

    Painting Hive Boxes in the Garden, 2.8.2024- BEE-Co and the Garden Club co-hosted a competition where students painted hive boxes for the growing BEE-Co apiary. Students were also given a tour of the community garden and informed about native species and pollinator plants.

    BEE-Co “Native TX Bees’ Ice Cream Parlor” & Habitat-making, 2.1.2024- BEE-Co hosted a meeting where Layla Hoffen ’26 (Bee Campus Student Representative) and local Georgetown beekeeper Sarah Denman (Bee Salty) discussed different native bees, how to identify them, ways to support them in your own backyard, and how native leafcutting bees inadvertently help make ice cream. Students then helped make native bee houses for the Ecolab out of SU garden’s bamboo shoots, newspaper, and recycled aluminum cans. 


    30 November 2023

    “High Tea with the Queen” Beeswax Candle-making, 11.30.2023- BEE-Co hosted an event where Layla Hoffen ’26 and local Georgetown beekeeper Sarah Denman (Bee Salty) discussed how beeswax is produced and its uses and benefits. Southwestern bees’ honey was served with tea while students rolled, scented, and decorated their own beeswax candles.

    Tabling at Student Organization Fair, 08.27.2023- BEE-Co students tabled for BEE-Co and the Garden Club, and brought live bees in an observation hive to teach other students about their importance and activities.


    Native Plants Webinar, 10.27.2020 - As part of the Office of Sustainability’s fall Sustainability Webinar Series, the Grounds Ambassadors hosted a Native Plants Webinar to introduce the campus community to both iconic and lesser-known plant species in Central Texas.

    Racing Extinction Virtual Screening, 4.22.2020 - For Earth Day, Southwestern University hosted a virtual screening of “Racing Extinction,” a 2015 documentary about the ongoing Anthropogenic mass extinction of species.

    Bat Appreciation Webinar, 4.17.2020 - To celebrate Bat Appreciation Day and Southwestern University’s new bat houses, the Office of Sustainability hosted a Bat Appreciation Webinar with co-founders of Austin Bat Refuge, Dianna Odegard & Lee Mackenzie, and bat conservationist/filmmaker, Emily Stanford, to talk about bat conservation and dispel negative myths about bats.


    Sustainability Fun on the Mall, 10.21.2019 - As part of Campus Sustainability Week, the Bee Campus USA capstone group shared a booth with the Garden Club and handed out pollinator plant seeds with informational sheets to those who stopped by.

    Garden Day, 10.20.2019 - Hosted by the Garden Club, this workday in the Garden was focused on planting pollinator-friendly, drought-resistant plants in one of the main beds. Lance Roberson gave a talk on the importance of pollinators to our ecosystems, as well as the importance of pollinator plant species for them.

  • Bee Campus USA requires the annual sponsoring and tracking of student service-learning projects by students, faculty, and/or staff to enhance pollinator habitats on- and off-campus. These projects are described below:


    Garden Club students planted host plants and nectar sources in a butterfly waystation/pollinator garden as part of a Layla Hoffen’s (Bee Campus USA Student Representative) SAFE grant to certify SU’s garden as a Monarch Waystation. The host plants in the Waystation, the native bee houses made by BEE-Co students, and the teaching apiary all provide nest sites for native bees, butterflies, and honey bees.

    In April 2024, Layla Hoffen ’26 received a grant for a pallet of milkweed plants from Monarch Watch. As of this spring, the Waystation has hosted over 40 caterpillars!


    Oak Tree Planting, 11/6/2020 - For Texas Arbor Day, Facilities Management led a tree planting event. A 22-year old native Oak tree was planted in its forever home in front of the campus’ library. Native oak trees support pollinators by providing winter shelter and habitat. 

    Oak Tree Planting

    Wildflower Planting, 10/16/2020 - During Campus Sustainability Week in the fall, the Grounds Ambassadors led a wildflower planting event in the triangular space between the Robertson center and the Chapel. Volunteers helped plant bluebonnet, red poppy, and rudbeckia seeds.

    Wildflower Planting

    Solitary Bee Houses, Fall 2020 - For her Grounds Ambassador project, student Ceanna Cooksey bought, built, and installed on campus 4 houses meant for native mason bees. These houses will facilitate small colonies of mason bees and other native wood-nesting native insects.

    Bee Houses

    From Farm to Table FYS, Fall 2020 - This course involves a Community-Engaged Learning Project, which varies by year; in Fall 2020, on-campus students helped plant native and adapted flowers on campus and remote students prepared an educational pollinator guide.

    Farm to Table

    Wildflower Experiment, Spring 2020 - Students in Dr. Burks’ Ecology class conducted a wildflower experiment within the triangular space between the Robertson center and the Chapel. Students seeded eight plots marked off by string and stakes to study how seeding amount and timing affected community diversity. 

    Wildflower Experiment

    Garden Work Days, Spring 2020 - The Garden Club hosted various workdays in the campus community garden where volunteers helped plant pollinator-friendly crops, learned organic gardening and water conservation techniques, and released beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantises as a pollinator-friendly form of pest management. 

    Garden Work Days


    From Farm to Table FYS, Fall 2019 - This course involves a Community-Engaged Learning Project, which varies by year; in Fall 2019, two groups worked in the SU Community Garden, primarily by weeding and removing other invasive plants so that natural pollinator species could move in. 

    Creation of Protected Native Habitat, Fall 2019 - As part of their capstone project, the Environmental Studies Bee Campus USA capstone group, with permission from Facilities, designated an area east of the athletic fields and bordering the walking trail as a “Protected Native Habitat.” The area has not been mowed or otherwise maintained by Facilities for decades, and now has an official designation by SU so that it remains protected.

  • Honey bees will frequently move into new homes, and love to move into high places with small holes, which they find in the limestone most of our campus buildings are made up of. Instead of exterminating bees with chemical pesticides, it is crucial to call a beekeeper to remove them in a way that allows them to keep doing their important job, and will not have a detrimental impact on our direct and indirect environment.

    The following bee removals allowed bee colonies to be relocated to the BEE-Co apiary without the use of pesticides.

    Robertson Center Trap-out, 8/13/2023- A swarm of bees had moved into the Corbin J. Robertson Building. Student Layla Hoffen ’26 set up a trap-out/forced abscond (placing a new home for the bees in front of the hive and smoking them out of their old home) to remove the bees from the wall.

    Cullen Building Swarm Traps, 5/12/2023- During the spring, healthy honey bee colonies are usually looking to leave their current home with their old queen and half the body of bees to start a new colony, in a process called “swarming.” A small swarm of bees was taking an interest in a corner of the Cullen Building, and a swarm trap (a box with old comb and synthetic pheromones) was set up to deter them from moving into the wall.

    Kyle E. White Center Cut-out, 4/30/2023- A huge colony of bees had moved into the Kyle E. White Center in 2022. Student Layla Hoffen ’26, assisted by Bee Salty, a professional bee removal company, removed the bees over a 12 hour period. Georgetown Fire Department assisted in the removal by lending their TIC (thermal imaging camera) to SU to anticipate how large the hive was before opening the wall.

  • Campuses are required to post signage regarding pollinators to educate the campus and broader community about pollinators.

    The locations of the SU’s Bee Campus USA signage are below.

The initial certification of Southwestern University as a Bee Campus USA institution was accomplished through a 2019 Environmental Studies capstone project, including Samantha Buehler, Karonech Chreng, Katey Ewton, Abigail Lloyd, and Spencer Kleypas, their advisor, Dr. Joshua Long, and with support from Facilities Management and the Sustainability Committee.

All affiliate commitments and renewed certification are accomplished by student beekeeping organization BEE-Co (Beekeeping Engagement and Education Community), est. 2023.