Students at Catskill Middle School have been enjoying an up close and personal study of bees since the school recently took delivery of a hive of the important pollinators. This clear-sided observation hive is located in the greenhouse of the eighth grade science classroom, where students can safely observe the approximately 3500 honey bees as they collect pollen, make honeycombs, and reproduce to continue the honey bee population. The hive’s one queen bee is marked with a yellow dot so students can find her easily.
The bees can’t access the indoors but can freely come and go via a tube to the outside, so the science classes will also be able to see them pollinating the surrounding pollinator plants that they planted during Earth Day activities at the Middle School.
“As a student teacher for my undergraduate degree, I was in a school that had an indoor observation hive with honey bees. This is something that really intrigued me, as well as the students in that school district. When I found out there were so many avid bee lovers and bee keepers here in Catskill, I knew it was the project to bring to the classroom,” said seventh grade science teacher Sara Endres, who secured a grant through the Whole Kids Foundation, in partnership with the Bee Cause Project, to bring a hive to CMS.
Bees play an important role in pollinating both food crops and wild plants alike, but the honey bee population has been dramatically decreasing in recent years. Getting to know the bees gives our students an appreciation for their importance and provides an opportunity for students to make changes to our world that they can see for years to come. The hive will play a role in students learning about topics such as pollination and reproduction, ecology, life cycles, sustainability, human impact, and more. Having the hive in the classroom also helps to create discussion about topics beyond the bees themselves, such as climate, environment, conservation, pollution, land usage, gardening, food, and medicine, to name just a few.
“As a hobby beekeeper, I find people are very wary and curious of bees. They ask lots of questions and are fascinated by bees once they hear a little about them,” added seventh grade social studies teacher David Taylor, who helps facilitate and manage the hive. “This is especially true of our students, so what better way to peak that curiosity than to have them safely nose to nose with bees!”