As you may be aware, honeybees all over the world are experiencing “Colony Collapse Disorder” and their populations are diminishing each year. Gerry Harrison, Fifth Grade Teacher at Heritage School, is aware of the diminishing bee population and its effects on the environment. He received a grant last year from the Foundation in order to establish beehives outside of his classroom and to begin a beekeeping project aimed at helping honeybee populations and educating students on the importance of bees in our world. Students are involved in researching, building, and installing a beehive. Gerry is working with local beekeepers, including two of his colleagues, Lin Nichols and Heather Schaare, while implementing his project.
It has been less than a year since the beehive has been installed and is already buzzing with results and excitement. Gerry estimates that approximately 50,000 bees have called it their home, and he has already harvested several jars of honey. He is helping students discover the many aspects of beekeeping including: biology, agriculture, ecology, environmental studies, culinary and nutritional studies and business. In doing this, students are able to identify a honey bee from other types of bees and are developing a respect for the honeybees’ role in the environment. Students may be able to provide hands-on, year round experience if they are interested in beekeeping, or may even discover some of Gerry’s bees in their own backyards as these bees generally pollinate up to 5 miles from their hive.
As Gerry and his project take a lead in addressing a critical environmental concern, we expect that others in the community may take an interest in it as well. As students share their knowledge about the intricate details of beekeeping and just how fascinating a bee’s world is, one can’t help but want to get involved. Some may establish their own beehives at home, while others may focus on reducing pesticides and herbicides, incorporating bee-friendly plants into their landscape, or supporting local harvesters by purchasing local honey.
Gerry attributes his success of this project to those who helped him get this project underway, including Lin Nichols, Heather Schaare, Linda Smith, Kevin McCowan, and Amy Randall and is grateful to the Foundation for the initial grant.
Contributions made by: Joi Donnellon and Lori Larson