At Beaufort Academy, students are learning about the birds and the bees. Well, mostly just the bees.
A hive has been installed in the school’s media center to teach students about bees and the challenges facing them today.
They also are plain mesmerizing to watch, students said.
“In my mind, I thought they just sting people and that’s all they do in the world,” sixth-grader Braxton Tolbert said. “My favorite part about having the hive here is just learning about the bees and seeing what they look like and do everyday.”
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The hive was installed Dec. 2 as part of the Bee Cause Project, a nonprofit group aimed at stimulating curiosity in young people about the importance of honey bees and encourage them to tend to the species well-being.
Honey bee populations have been declining in recent years, largely because of changing climates and use of pesticides, many experts say. But project executive director Tami Enright said it is crucial to help the young generation understand bees’ role in the world — they are one of the leading pollinators and responsible for about one-third of people’s food supply.
Volunteers with the project, run through the Savannah Bee Company, began installing hives just more than a year ago with the goal of reaching 1,000 schools nationwide.
Beaufort Academy’s hive is the 32nd of 41 — and the only current hive in Beaufort County. Riverview Charter School and Lowcountry Montessori School will soon receive hives of their own, according to Enright.
The hive is set up in the media center, where all subject areas and all grades can see and enjoy it, school spokeswoman Bethany Byrne said.
The bees come in through a tube that runs to a hole in the outside wall. Two glass panels allow students and faculty to see the bees at work — truly understanding where the “busy bees” saying comes from, project founder and beekeeper Ted Dennard said.
“This is sort of like a window into nature you wouldn’t normally have, so you get to look into that window into the world of honey bees” said Dennard, who also founded the Bee Company. “Throughout the year, you will see them building up honeycomb, putting the honey stores in there, bringing pollen in, dancing and communicating in different ways and it just constantly moves and you’re able to be a witness to it.”
Byrne said the bees have had constant company since being installed, as students and faculty stop by in the morning or after school, in between classes and during lunch just to see what they are up to. In the school’s first project involving the hive, sixth-graders will make posters and signs with information about the bees and hang them around the hive.
The students were full of questions for Dennard and Enright when they visited Tuesday for a presentation: What are the different jobs, how long do they live, how do they make honey, what do the different dances mean, do they ever sleep?
Sixth-grader Emily Wilson said her favorite discovery is that all the worker bees are females — girl power, she called it.
Beyond the initial project, the school is working with teachers of all subject areas and grades to find ways to integrate the bees into lessons.
“We feel like the opportunities are endless,” Byrne said. “When we applied for the hive almost two years ago, we thought we knew what we were getting. But now that we actually have the bees, there are so many possibilities as we learn more about them and the students will become involved in all aspects.”
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