There are approximately 15,000 new ways for students at B-L High School to receive hands-on learning thanks to an observation beehive that was recently installed in teacher Allison Cook’s science classroom. The beehive, which contains honeybees, was supplied to B-L High School by the Lexington Soil and Water Conservation District.
According to John Oxner, the District Manager for the Lexington Soil and Water Conservation District, the organization’s Honeybees in the Schools Program helps to educate school-aged children about the importance of honeybees as pollinators that help sustain our food supply and other wonders of the natural environment. Honeybees produce honey, but in addition to that, they are the premier pollinators of a wide range of crops including almonds, apples, avocados, cucumbers, melons, and pears. In fact, Mr. Oxner said that more than 30% of the U.S. diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants and honeybees are responsible for 80% of that process.
The observation hive at B-L High School is safe for all students as it is entirely enclosed on the inside of the school with a covered opening to the outside for bees to forage. (Bees remain in the hive or outdoors and are not flying around in the classroom.) Students are able to see and study a full-functioning bee colony through a clear, plexiglass wall and this interactive learning has generated quite a buzz among students and staff members.
“The incorporation of an observation hive of honeybees has been one of the most exciting things that I have experienced throughout my career. As a beekeeper, I find them to be fascinating. However, I never imagined the engagement that thousands of little insects would bring to my classroom. Students from all over BLHS are stopping by to see and check out our newest additions. And they don't want to ‘just look.’ They have a million questions. They go home and think about it and come back the next day with even more questions. And they often bring a friend. It has been more than I ever could have expected and I hope to be able to expand in the coming months,” said teacher Allison Cook.
In addition to having resources from the Lexington Soil and Water Conservation District, B-L High School also receives project support, educational information and a beekeeper from the Mid-State Beekeeper Association. The goal of the Honeybee Program is to create awareness about the honeybee population, which has been in a state of decline due to pesticides, viruses, diseases and other causes in recent years.