Host a Learning Bee Hive!

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1 Host a Learning Bee Hive! Frequently Asked Questions Honeybees are incredibly important for two main reasons: pollination and honey creation! Pollination: According to the USDA Agricultural Research Service, 1/3 of all the food you eat depends, directly or indirectly, on honeybee pollination. This contributes more than $14 billion to US agriculture! Honeybees are also vital for flowers, pollinating more than 16% of the flowers that beautify our gardens. Pollination is key in increasing the yield of a plant. In other words, it affects the size of a fruit or the amount of veggies produced per plant. Without the honeybees, we would see a significant decrease in the yield of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Honey creation: Honeybees collect the nectar found in flowers, bring it back to their hives and turn it into honey. In 2002, more than $130 million worth of raw honey was produced in the United States. Honey is a beneficial sweetener that includes a variety of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, the antioxidant pinocembrin, as well as anti- bacterial qualities. Eating local honey can also fend off some allergies! Why have honeybees at our school? Q: What are the benefits of installing a beehive at our school? Support your garden (Agricultural): Installing a beehive is an excellent way to support your gardening environment. Honeybees account for 80% of all insect pollination. They will help with the growth and nourishment of your fruits, vegetables and plants, vastly increasing your yield. Support your students (Informational): A beehive provides an additional opportunity for learning within your school garden classroom. A hive helps children develop respect for the honeybee s role in nature, providing experience with honeybees in their natural environment. This will allow them to see honeybees as friends and collaborators in the success of your garden instead of as scary foes. Support the bees (Ecological): Honeybees all over the world are experiencing the mysterious colony collapse disorder causing an unprecedented amount of honeybees to perish each year. This has created a detrimental low population of honeybees, affecting crop pollination and forcing remainder populations of bees to be unsustainably trucked, or even flown in, to pollinate crops. By installing a beehive, your school will give bees a local place to live and a plant- varied garden on which to flourish, contributing to their re- establishment. (If you d like to learn more about this see the Fun Honeybee Facts section) Q: What can kids learn from honeybee activities at school?

2 The learning opportunities are endless! Students can discover new aspects of: Biology- learn more about plant biology and about insect biology Agriculture- learn how honey is created and how plant yields are increased through pollination Ecology- learn about the relationships between living organisms and the natural world Environmental Studies- learn how the environment is affected by the positive and negative choices we make Culinary and Nutrition Studies- study the nutritional benefits of naturally sourced honey and how to incorporate it into cooking Business- through interactions with the beekeeper and in potentially selling surplus items, learn about the business aspects of a product from start to finish. (Visit PollinatorLive for more teaching resources: Q: Is it safe to have a hive at our school? Absolutely! As long as the hive is installed in a secure section of the garden (behind a row of flowers, for example) and all student activities with the hive are supervised, students should be free from harm from the honeybees. Honeybees are truly docile in nature and are only prompted to sting when provoked. School Implementation and Timeline Below are some answers to simple beekeeping questions; however, your local beekeeper will be the best source of information. Q: What is the best season to set- up a beehive? Generally, late winter into early spring is the best time. Once the frame is established, then the honeybee colony should be introduced to the hive in early spring. Q: Where is the best place to set- up a beehive? The beehive should be situated in a secluded area where there is reduced traffic, such as in the corner of a garden. It is suggested that they should be placed at least 25 feet from pedestrian walkways and areas where people congregate. Students should be able to interact with the beehive when is necessary but in a supervised fashion. It is also important that beehives are placed in areas that receive good sunlight. Q: How often does the beehive need attending? During the prime honeybee season (March/April) the beehive needs to be looked after about once a week. After this period, the beehive only needs to be checked about once a month. Q: When do honeybees begin to produce honey? Honeybees could take up to a year to establish a good amount of honey flow. There is normally no honey during the first season the beehive is placed. When the honey does start to flow, it usually begins in March and goes through late May/early June.

3 Q: What if I need to move the beehive to another spot? A beehive could weigh as much as 100 pounds once it s established, so it is recommended that it remain in the original location if at all possible. If it needs to be moved, the beehive will have to be broken down in layers and the bees will need to be moved in nucleus colonies. This should be done by your local beekeeper Costs and Supplies Q: How much does it cost to maintain a beehive? The original cost of a beehive runs at around $385 per hive. It is recommended to have two hives per location in case the honeybees from one hive need to be transferred to the other. The honeybees are normally included in this total amount. Additional food costs per year for bees are $50 as well as costs of the beekeeper s assistance. Q: How much food is required for each beehive? Each beehive requires a supply of sugar and pollen patties that costs around $50 per hive each year. The honeybees should be fed on a biweekly basis. Safety Q: Do honeybees swarm? Honeybees tend to swarm once a year in early spring when a queen and 50% of the worker bees leave the hive to make a new home on a nearby tree or branch. Swarming tends to look very dramatic but in reality, this is a sign of a growing, thriving hive. While swarming, the honeybees are still docile and, again, would not intentionally harm anyone unless provoked. Q: Does this mean new homes are created? Yes, typically this means the bees have outgrown their current home and are expanding to new homes. A beekeeper can help control and manage this process. Q: Are honeybees dangerous? While the prospect of a honeybee sting is scary, honeybees are nonaggressive by nature and only sting when they are defending their hive or provoked. If a honey honeybee sting has occurred, it is usually very easily treated and, only in rare cases, in need of a doctor s assistance. It is suggested that you store a first aid kit along with an EPI pen in your garden. Please see the Mayo Clinic s page of what to do in case of a honeybee sting. Fun Honeybee Facts Q: Do all honeybees produce honey? No, only the females produce the honey and leave the hive to collect the nectar. They also build and protect the hive, and circulate air by beating their wings. The male honeybees are called drones and their job is to mate with the queen. Q: What do the queen honeybees do? The queen s job is to lay the eggs that will become the hive s next generation of honeybees. There is usually only one queen and if she dies, the workers create a new queen by feeding her a

4 diet of food called royal jelly to make her fertile. The queen also regulates the hive s activities by producing chemicals that guide the behavior of the other honeybees. Q: How do honeybees pollinate plants? As honeybees travel from blossom to blossom in search of nectar, they brush against the pollen- bearing parts of a flower and pick up pollen. When the honeybee goes to another flower for more food, some of the pollen from the first flower sticks to the second flower. In this way, the flowers are pollinated. Q: How do bees make honey? Honey is the sweet fluid produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowers. Worker honeybees transform the floral nectar that they gather into honey by adding enzymes to the nectar. The honeybees then transfer this nectar- enzyme concoction to the warm hive walls where they further reduce the moisture by fanning their wings. This produces the thick, viscous honey we eat! Q: What is causing this colony collapse disorder? Scientists are still figuring it out but it seems to be a myriad of factors including lost of habitat, immune system decline, and attack of pest, mites and diseases. Destruction of flower- rich environments as well as current agricultural practices of mono- culture farming, where one crop is produced at a time, have created floral deserts, taking away from honeybees natural habitats and food supply. Add to this the use of systemic pesticides on the plants honeybees pollinate and non- organic honeybee farming practices, and you have honeybees with compromised immune systems, making them more susceptible to disease. More Information Q: I have more questions! Who can I turn to? There are beekeeping associations throughout the United States that are more than happy to help a fellow beekeeper with honeybee related questions and concerns. You can also check out these sources: National Geographic honeybee page: Animal Planet- How Honeybees make honey: Haagen- Dazs helps with the honeybee cause: Vanishing of the bees: USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bee Benefits to Agriculture : Mayo Clinic bee- sting treatment page: stings/ds01067

5 Cute story about bees helping make raspberries in Kenya! help- make- raspberries- in- kenya- 2/

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