Press "Enter" to skip to content

Black Hills State Helping Save Bees and Planet

Of course the Yellow Jackets would get on board with this plan: last month, Black Hills State University joined South Dakota State University as an official “Bee Campus USA.” That means BHSU joins the fight to promote pollinators:

Our goal is to set aside about 17 acres over the campus, which is about 25% of our grounds, to manage organically. So as opposed to set aside a pollinator garden where we plant things that specific species will like,” said [Black Hills State University Sustainability Coordinator Eva] Chase. “We are going to set aside these areas as pollinator or native areas so that native vegetation can grow there and some of that habitat loss that pollinator species have experienced can be restored.”

Throughout the year, the university is going to be planning pollination-type events. Hopefully, by June, staff are going to have a festival for pollination week [Connor Matteson, “Local University Host[s] New Habitat for Poll[i]nators,” KOTA-TV, 2019.08.13].

[I couldn’t bear to tag the quote with KOTA’s actual headline, which used the plural form of the verb host and spelled pollinator with an e. That’s a 28% error rate by word in that headline—rewrite!]

Promoting pollinators promotes local food (gardens need bees!), which is just one of seventeen planks in Black Hills State University’s plan to become carbon-neutral by 2050.

Black Hills State also installed solar panels on a second dorm in late May; the panels provide about 20% of the dorms’ electricity and should pay for themselves in fifteen years. BHSU bought a Chevy Bolt last spring and, over the first several weeks of use, saved 65 gallons of gasoline and 1,281 pounds of greenhouse emissions.


  1. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-08-14 09:07

    BHSU bought a Chevy Bolt last spring and, over the first several weeks of use, saved 65 gallons of gasoline and 1,281 pounds of greenhouse emissions.

    It’s Chevy “Volt,” not “Bolt.

    That’s only a 5% error rate by word, so you’re still better than Black Hills Republican TV.

  2. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-08-14 09:09

    Of course, by not including the quote closer after “Bolt,” I didn’t exactly enhance my reputation as a grammar nazi.

  3. David Newquist 2019-08-14 10:37

    Yes, there is a Bolt EV: see this link.

  4. bearcreekbat 2019-08-14 10:53

    The reference to “pollination-type events” and “a festival for pollination week” on a college campus brought to mind some of the male/female drinking parties of the old days resulting in unplanned bundles of joy.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-08-14 12:53

    I thought it was funny that the RCJ article referred to “Bolt” and not “Volt”… but there it is! Bolt and Volt! Thanks for the link, David!

  6. Porter Lansing 2019-08-14 13:47

    BHSC Students … “Leave the Pollination to the Bees. Practice Safe Sex” 🌸 🌼 🌻 :)

  7. mike from iowa 2019-08-15 18:38

    Howz this for saving the planet- Rumour has it Drumpf is in negotiations with somebodies for America to buy Greenland. Moar when I find it.

  8. Debbo 2019-08-16 15:10

    Here’s a new energy storage system, not a battery, that just earned a $110 million investment based only 9n proof of concept! Well, here’s the blurb from Mike Allen at Axios:

    The Swiss energy startup Energy Vault secured a $110 million investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund, a massive sum for a two-year-old company with merely a proof-of-concept, albeit a promising one. When we think of energy storage, batteries come to mind, but they’re expensive and contain rare chemicals. Energy Vault wants to store energy, but basically in the form of potential energy: when there is excess solar or wind power, that energy is diverted to a crane that lifts 35 metric ton blocks of concrete into a tower around itself. Later, when the system needs that energy, the blocks are lowered by the crane, driving a turbine using gravitational energy in the process. A one-tenth scale prototype has been built for $2 million, and this investment will help build two full-scale prototypes. Think of it as similar to a classic Swiss gravity-powered cuckoo clock, only one that hypothetically could fundamentally alter the future of our society.

    Akshat Rathi, Quartz

  9. Robert McTaggart 2019-08-16 16:23

    Gravity driven systems are not new. Pumped hydro storage is in this category.

    They have a place in the scheme of things and can reduce the mining required for rare earth elements, but they do not match the variability in demand by themselves.

  10. Debbo 2019-08-18 15:43

    From the paywalled Strib:

    “the planet’s land and water resources are so poorly used, the U.N. said, that, as climate change applies greater pressure, the ability of humanity to feed itself is in peril.

    ” The U.N. report magnifies a dual challenge: how to nourish a growing population but minimize agriculture’s carbon footprint. The way forward, researchers said, requires reducing emissions, removing carbon from the atmosphere, and changing diets, especially among the wealthy.”

    1. Better land management.
    Better land management techniques include limiting the use of fertilizers that contribute to emissions and planting crops that add carbon to the soil.

    2. Better forest management.
    The World Resources Institute said that when it comes to land use, better forest management has the “largest potential for reducing emissions.”

    3. Eat more plants.
    Compared with plant based foods, meat and dairy have a bigger emissions footprint — accounting for 14.5% of all greenhouse gases. Beef and lamb have the greatest impact: 50 grams of beef protein generate more than 37 pounds of carbon dioxide. The same quantity of farmed fish produces about 7 pounds of carbon dioxide.

    4. Waste not.
    Taken together, the amount of food that is wasted and unused accounts for close to one-tenth of global emissions.

  11. Robert McTaggart 2019-08-18 16:15

    How much carbon dioxide is emitted in the care of plants that you eat and their delivery to market? The decay of plants, such as after food is wasted or via composting, can also generate methane.

    Beans are plants. Eating beans won’t lead to the emission of methane, will it? It’s not like methane is 25 times worse of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide or anything…wait a minute….

    At the end of the day we need to know the holistic greenhouse gas emissions from all factors related to the growth of the food, its distribution, its consumption, and what happens to its waste….be that a plant or a meat.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-08-18 19:33

    But yes, we have to pay attention to where we get our food. It is possible (I don’t have numbers, but it is possible) that my net greenhouse gas impact might be lower if I eat a burger a day from grass-fed beef raised, butchered, and sold here in Brown County than if I replace those burgers with an equivalent caloric intake of berries and other produce raised thousands of miles away and shipped here by fossil-fueled trains and trucks.

    If Wendell Berry were President, he might impose tariffs that stifle global trade just like Trump does… but a President Berry would do so as a way to capture the externalities imposed on the global ecosphere (and our cultural soul?) by long-distance transport and to promote greater local/regional self-sufficiency with lower overall consumption. Such a holistic plan to scale back global trade and reduce consumption would likely crash the world economy… but President Berry might say that we need a global reset to set ourselves on a sustainable course. No one said saving the world would be easy.

  13. Robert McTaggart 2019-08-18 19:58

    Local production does help (I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a grass-fed beef burger today), but you can’t grow everything just anywhere.

    And if you stop delivering food to the rest of the world, that is both a humanitarian problem and a national defense issue.

    So we are not going to stop feeding the world.

    We either live with that delivery carbon (i.e. that is the cost of doing business), or find ways to reduce it, such as with carbon capture or an alternative fuel (biofuel, hydrogen, etc.). You need energy intensity for the shipping.

  14. Robert McTaggart 2019-08-18 19:59

    Even the transport of bees for pollinating crops has a carbon impact.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-08-18 23:26

    I suppose we can’t just get more local bees everywhere, can we? Do we need to haul our bees south for the winter?

    Of course, if we built more trains, we could have special bee trains that would reduce emissions.

    I wonder: could monarch butterflies ever take up some of the pollinating slack left be declining bee populations? Those butterflies transport themselves… what’s their carbon emission rate?

    The key is not to fall for absolutes. I’m not advocating getting rid of all beef or all bananas. I’m saying increase local self-sufficiency, reduce global flows, use less energy.

    I’m not saying unplug all the power lines to BHSU and run everything on solar panels exclusively… although if our friend Roland from the Tulare Energy solar project can hook us up with some of those new big batteries he says Spink County will get with its new solar farm, maybe we could!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.