Curtis, a member of the Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia and assistant to the dean of George Mason University's College of Humanities and Social Sciences, has made the Fairfax school one of the first in the state to study and maintain bees on-campus.
What made you want to start this project at George Mason?
It seemed like the right time. There is a lot of excitement and awareness about bees in the community right now. So that, coupled with George Mason's support for the program, created the perfect opportunity to educate students about bees.
What are the advantages of studying the habits and lives of bees?
The teach us about tenacity, selfless service and so much more. They're always trying to do something that will assist everyone. For example, you'll never see a bee starve to death. They'll always share their food equally throughout the colony. There are all sorts of ways to learn from the way that bees live their lives.
A lot of people see bees as our enemies. Does that make it difficult to get people excited about this project?
Kind of. Once people allow themselves to be educated on what a bee is -- because bees are not wasps or hornets; they have a different motivation in that they're out there seeking pollen, seeking nectar -- people can really see the connection and appreciate them.
What are your ultimate hopes for the beekeeping program?
The bees have only been in place since May, so we're taking baby steps. This week is the first student demonstration, so they're going to suit up and come out for a lecture beside the three hives. So I'm hopeful that we'll continue to do this for different lectures -- students studying communications, engineering, sociology, biology and more -- and then possibly start a course centered around beekeeping in the fall 2013 semester.