Getting permission from your college can be the single most frustrating part of the process. Be prepared.
The first thing they're probably going to bring up is safety.
While safety is very important, it really shouldn't be enough reason to cancel beekeeping.
The safety concerns will largely arise from where you're planning on keeping your bees. If you're lucky enough to have a secluded area, away from regular foot traffic, where you can put up a couple of safety signs, you really won't have any problem with the general public.
People who are severely allergic to bees already carry around their own emergency medication [or at least they should], because bees and other stinging insects will exist regardless of your activity. At the end of the day, people who are allergic to bees probably cannot be part of your beekeeping activity.
A great way to secure administrative permission is to have faculty involved.
Contact your biology department, and see if any of the Professors would like to get involved in beekeeping. They very well might want to learn beekeeping themselves. If not, they might be able to endorse the bees activity as a resource to help with certain classes and labs, giving an academic push for having bees on campus. Even if they might not really use them for classes, you might find a kind, open-minded, flexible professor who is willing to support your cause and nudge the admin, telling them that having bees would be super.
Keep in mind that being in an urban area is no excuse! Check out Burgh Bees, in Pittsburgh!
Getting funds can be tricky.
In all cases, be careful with your funds, and keep costs as low as possible. Beekeeping does not need to be expensive.
If you're an official student group, you might be elligible to apply for funds to start your activity.
You might also apply for funds to hold an event. And hey, if you're event is to show off the new hives, but you need people to be safe, and they need veils, then you've bought yourself some equipment that'll last years after the event.
Some beekeeping associations provide funds to first time beekeepers. Check at the local, regional and state level.
Keep in mind that when your beekeeping activity is in full swing, you will be producing some honey. If you're able to sell it, or provide it for free [for a suggested donation], then you're able to recoup your initial costs, and also invest in furthering the activity.
Attached there's an example of a proposal that the Princeton BEE Team put together to get some funding for beekeeping classes during the winter. Two important things to take note: 1 the beekeeper was willing to donate his time to teach students, in exchange for a donation to his beekeeping club. 2. They listed safety equipment as part of their costs for the event(s), which are great long term investments for the club.
IF you're stuck, here are some other ideas:
SHARED OWNERSHIP SCHEME...
So the basic idea behind this plan is that you tally up all the costs you can foresee (plus a bit of wiggle room) and then you cut it into reasonable shares. For example, let's say you figured that you need 800 USD to get your program started, with all the equipment, hives, woodware, fence, association membership, etc.
You then cut the total amount of money you need into shares. In this example, you could do 80 shares of 10 USD each, or 40 shares of 20 USD. You then go out into the community, and SELL the shares to people who might be interested in supporting the venture. IN RETURN, these people will receive XYZ amount of honey from your production over the next XYZ years.
Deciding what sort of cut of honey the'll get can be difficult, because you don't want to overestimate, and then end up shortchanging your investors. But you also want it to be relatively competitive. Check out the prices of locally produced honey, which will also help when letting the investors know what they're getting back, and what the normal cost would be. There's also the option of saying that their share is equal to a share of the honey. Ie. if you have 80 investors, for the next X years, they get 1/80th of the honey (although you may want to factor in some honey for bribing people who helped, and perhaps some for selling for profit).
Whatever your plan, the people get some honey in return, and they're supporting a local group of students. Everyone wins.
the PROS of this plan:
- more community involvement
- locals are invested in your success
- you don't have to put the money down
- sort of a cool business idea to run through
- extra work for getting people to buy shares, keeping in touch with them, sending honey back, etc.
- what if your bees don't produce that much in the first/second years? Bad season? Bad year? Bad bees!
- what if a hive goes kaput?
- if more people know about the bees, you might potentially have more people who are worried about the bees.
The first con can be dealt with by figuring what sort of honey yields you'll get in the area, and local beekeepers might be able to help you. For example, the Princeton BEE Team yielded about 4 gallons in their first year. So that's quite a achievement, but is it the norm?
The second con can be dealt with by proper beekeping. Which you should do anyways. But hey, things happen. If you're really interested in the whole scheme, you can add in "insurance" that people can add to their shares.
BUT! For more info on shared ownership schemes, check out the attachment, straight from the horse's mouth, forwarded along by a BEE friendly contact in Bristol. ENJOY!
JUST PAY FOR IT YOURSELVES!
Yeah. This can be a bit of a kill-joy, but sometimes you just have to take the costs you'll have, and cut them up within the group. It will inspire you to keep costs down, which is good anyways, so that's a plus, but I also hate to think that there are people who would like to start beekeeping, but are turned off from the initial investment (although you could also say that by taking in some fee from each person, you're more likely to get people who are committed for the long term. but then again, that depends on the pricetag. Huge difference between throwing 20 into the pot, and throwing 200!)
The plus side of paying for it yourselves, is that it's much less work than going out and getting people to invest. At the same time, you can also use the same idea behind shared ownership to deal with the honey afterwards. Ie, those who paid, get the cuts of honey. And there's nothing nicer than taking a pot of honey back home to your family that you can say you produced yourself.
IN ALL CASES! VERY IMPORTANT!
- You need to be sure to reinvest a portion of the money back into the program. That's EXTREMELY important. Make it a set part of your finances, to always set aside some part of the funds.
These funds could mean expanding your hives (which then gets you more honey), getting new equipment, hosting events for the student/community in general, or just saving it for a rainy day. No matter where you are, it will rain one day, and it's nice to have a but of a cushion.
And if you've got the extra resources, you can expand your production to include other cool bee things, like wax, which can mean candles, balms, lotions, polishes, everything!
These activities are great fun to do during the colder months.
And I have dry skin.