Honey Bee Biology Class Creates Buzz Around University – News Center

Senior Lecturer Dr. Scott Rippel MS’96, PhD’99, established a micro-apiary on campus to help introduce other students and volunteers to the pollinators, which include not just bees but also Monarch butterflies. If you don’t see the video, watch it on Vimeo.

Dr. Scott Rippel MS’96, PhD’99 has a honey of a deal for students at The University of Texas at Dallas. 

This fall, the senior lecturer is teaching Honey Bee Biology, a survey course where biology undergraduates learn about the insect’s biology, behavior, social organization and role in the environment and agriculture. Students in his class get hands-on experience with basic beekeeping in the campus apiary, including maintaining the colonies and harvesting honey. 

Rippel, a decorated U.S. Army veteran, had no formal experience as a beekeeper before teaching the course. He earned both his MS and PhD in molecular and cell biology from the Department of Biological Sciences in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and has been teaching since 1999. 

It was a student that helped inspire Rippel to start the pilot class on honey bees for majors in the biology department in 2012. Since then, the class has always been full. 

“I was just always intrigued with honey bees,” he said. “My grandfather had a couple of hives when he had an orchard in Pennsylvania. One day in 2011 a student in one of my classes who had raised bees came in and said, ‘Hey, you wanna see something cool? There’s some bees out here on campus.’ It was an open hive on a log, and I was just enthralled with it.” 

In 2012, Rippel worked with Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability to develop an apiary on campus for his students to get firsthand experience working with bees, not as a beekeeping class, he said, but as a “side note” to teaching about the superorganism of the honey bee. 

As pollinators, honey bees contribute more than $14 billion annually to the U.S. agriculture industry, pollinating more than 100 commercial crops, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Around the UT Dallas campus, the bees gather nectar from plants such as Indian blanket, Queen Anne’s lace, canola, horsemint, aster and goldenrod. Rippel said each plant contributes to the flavor of honey, much like different grape varieties create distinctive…

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