Bees disrupt protest at UW campus on April 24, 1969.

  • By HistoryLink Staff
  • Posted 6/03/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 1223

On April 24, 1969, an attempt by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to shut down corporate recruiting at the University of Washington's Loew Hall degenerates into farce when angry bees escape from hives being trucked across campus by two Eastern Washington farmers.

The farmers claimed this was an accident, but nobody believed them. Leftists, rightists, neutrals, and police were stung by the bees, which were both apian and apolitical.

Did the University Administration actually invite the bees to campus? The answer, as it turns out, is undoubtedly yes. A former campus police officer, David Wilma, who was on duty at that time, relates his perspective on the honeybee question:

"I was in the Board of Regents Meeting room with the President of the University [Charles Odegaard] and his vice presidents, running a radio link to the people at the site of the demonstration. Before we went out, we were told that they had information that someone would try and disrupt the demonstration with honeybees and that anti-venom was laid in at the student health center. Sure enough, a pickup truck arrived on campus and was allowed to enter (there were strict controls on traffic entering campus) and the truck stopped in front of the demonstration. A man got out and got in back of the pickup and started opening hives. The "farmer" was allowed to leave campus, and was never questioned. I remember running the license plate and showing the name and address to the people in the board room. They weren't at all interested."

Sources:

Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 135, 268; David Wilma, "Subject: Re: Timeline File 1223 Bees," Email to Priscilla Long, October 11, 1999.


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