Cape Romain Charter School welcomes bees
The students at Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School (CREECS) are all abuzz about their newest addition — a hive of honeybees.
The hive was recently installed into the environmental education classroom thanks to the work of fourth grade teacher Haley Leland and The Bee Cause Project, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to install observation honeybee hives in 1,000 schools.
“The addition of the Bee Cause observation bee hive at our school has been an amazing experience,” Leland said. “I am so glad that all students can view and learn about honeybees in such a real way. The students absolutely love watching the bees. In fact, I have several students who spend their recess with the bees.”
The bees and their hive are protected in a glass paneled case on the wall of the classroom next to a window. A hole was drilled in the wall to allow the bees a safe access tunnel from their hive to the outside world. The school has cautiously marked off the space outside so students do not wander into the bees’ access area. CREECS students can view the bees working from both sides of the hive, as they bring in pollen and slowly work to turn it into honey.
While all of CREECS will benefit from observing the hive, the fourth graders will really be putting the new addition to good use as they study insects all year as part of the environmental education (EE) curriculum.
“The amount that the bees are incorporated into our lessons will definitely increase as the school year goes on. Our first interactions with the bees were just looking at them, discussing questions and answers,” Leland said. “We will spend a large amount of time on pollinators and their decline. So the bee hive will be used frequently throughout our EE lessons. Eventually the kids will monitor the hive for health. They will answer a series of short health questions daily. These questions will be a general daily check-up on the hive to ensure all is well.”
Leland went on to explain that honeybees are important to our everyday life and that it is crucial for children to learn about bees and other pollinators for that reason.
“Our goal for CREECS students is to become educated stewards of the environment. Learning about bees and the troubles they face naturally fits into this environmental stewardship goal. And bees are just awesome,” she said.
Leland first heard of The Bee Cause Project through contact in the South Carolina Beekeeper’s Association. From there, Tami Enright at Bee Cause walked her through the process of placing a beehive at CREECS, where it will stay indefinitely. As long as the bees remain healthy and productive, the hive will stay put. Bee Cause will maintain the hive and collect the honey, which will then be sold to help place future hives at other schools all over South Carolina and Georgia.
In order to help others receive a free hive, CREECS fourth graders have been selling jars of Bee Cause honey.
Haley said she and her kids “love our bees so much and we hope to ‘pay it forward’ to another school.” Last week they sold 40 jars raising around $600 for the project. It costs about $2,000 for a bee hive so they hope that with future sales through the year they can meet that goal.
The kids are hands-on in the money making venture as they made signs, told family and friends and came to school early and stayed late to sell honey in front of the school. They even handled the money and distribution of the jars.
“The students did a wonderful job selling honey. They were very enthused to be helping and part of such a special project,” Leland said. “Truly, I did very little. They did a wonderful job and should be proud of their hard work.”
For more information about The Bee Cause Project, visit their website at www.thebeecause.org.
Fun Bee Facts
According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, U.S. beekeepers lost nearly one in three honeybees last winter. CREECS hopes that by teaching their kids to be good stewards of the environment, the future of bees will look a little brighter. As they study the honeybees, the fourth graders decided to share a little bee knowledge with their neighbors around the county.
Here are a few of their favorite bee facts along with what they like most about their in-class beehive:
• “I like it because we get to see the queen bee. She’s the boss of all of them [worker bees].” — Denajah Gillyard
• “It makes me feel happy that we have our own bee cage in the school. It makes me feel good when we can see the queen. She doesn’t come out that often and that lets us know she’s alive.” — Reagan Bryant
• “I like to see the bees go out and in with the pollen and see them move around.” — Ayden Windham
• “I’ve learned that bees can go two miles from their home and they can produce honeycombs. They also have places for their babies and places for their pollen; they don’t all go in the same places.” — Ben Duncan
• “I like to be able to see the bees outside pollinating when we are at recess or on nature walks. You get to see them working before they go back home.” — Ethan Anderson
• “Worker bees live for two months and the queen bee can live for two years.” — Grayson Taylor
• “The queen bee has all the babies.” — Laney Templeton
• "My favorite bee fact is that the queen lives for up to two years and then lays an egg to take her place.” — Houston Hackett
• “Bees will not hurt you as long as you don’t mess with them.” — Eliza Crouch and Audrey Cooper
• “The honey we are selling came from bees at other schools in South Carolina and it tastes way better than what you buy in a store. You can’t take too much honey though or the bees will die.” — Gardner McClellan
By Christy Anderson
For The Times
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