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University administrator wears 'bee beard' to raise money for research center

By
Daniel Uria
Washington State University Provost Dan Bernardo with his beard consisting of thousands of bees. Bernardo agreed to wear the bees to raise awareness about honey bee health and to raise funds for the university to build a new 15,000-square-foot bee research facility, estimated to cost $16 million.
 Screen capture/WSU CAHNRS/YouTube
Washington State University Provost Dan Bernardo with his "beard" consisting of thousands of bees. Bernardo agreed to wear the bees to raise awareness about honey bee health and to raise funds for the university to build a new 15,000-square-foot bee research facility, estimated to cost $16 million. Screen capture/WSU CAHNRS/YouTube

PULLMAN, Wash., June 22 (UPI) -- A Washington State University provost allowed thousands of bees to crawl on his face in the shape of a beard to raise awareness about honey bee health.

Provost Dan Bernardo and the president of Fungi Perfecti, Paul Stamets, volunteered to wear a "beard" made of bees in hopes of raising funds for a new Honey Bee and Pollinator Research Center at the university.

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Bernardo remained calm throughout the stunt and told WSU News that he had complete confidence in the staff on hand.

"Initially, there's this scratchiness, sort of moving sensation," he said. "It's very noisy, maybe a little nerve-wracking. But I wasn't nervous. We had paramedics and every bee expert within 1,000 miles here, so I figured I was in good hands."

Stemets donated $50,000 to the new facility and Bernardo and beekeeper Eric Olson agreed to match all donations to $25,000.

"I believe in the intelligence of nature," Stemets said. "I study fungi, and I think using mushroom mycelium to help the bees will be key to saving them. We want to give back to bees what they give to us. I hope this small donation will go a long way to help the bees."

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The total cost of the proposed 15,000-square-foot facility is estimated to be up to $16 million.

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