The Bee Club: Exploring the World of Pollinators
The Bosque Bee Club’s primary focus is learning about and understanding the intricate mechanics of the hive and the pivotal role played by pollinators like bees in our agricultural society. Notably, bees pollinate one-third of the United States' food crops.
While the young hives may not yield a substantial honey harvest this year, the Club members have had the pleasure of sampling the honey, which boasts a delightful and complex sour-sweet taste, likely influenced by the bees' recent visits to sunflowers.
Now, the Bosque Bee Club members are preparing for the arrival of colder months. As the temperature drops, the Bosque Bee Club's attention turns toward beeswax crafts. Club members will engage in crafting various items, such as candles, wax cloth, soap, lotion bars, and chapstick. These activities offer wonderful hands-on experience as well as a profound appreciation for the versatility of beeswax.
And let's not overlook the intriguing bee facts uncovered:
- A worker bee produces just 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her 5-6 week life.
- The queen bee, the hive's matriarch, can live up to seven years and lays up to 2,500 eggs daily!
- Male bees, or drones, lack stingers and are evicted from the hive when winter approaches.
- Each bee boasts an impressive 170 odorant receptors.
- There are around 60,000-80,000 bees in a hive!
The Bosque Bee Club’s goal is to heighten awareness of the vital role of pollinators and beekeepers in the community, epitomizing the commitment to education and conservation.
Read below for additional information from the Bosque Bee Club's advisor, Jim Daly.
The Buzz About Bees at Bosque
Last school year, Bosque School received a Whole Kids Foundation Bee Grant to introduce honey bees to the Bosque School campus. The grant provided funds for bee suits and hive management equipment, the expansion of the Bosque School vegetable garden, the addition of several pollinator garden beds, and the construction of the Bosque Bee Haven. With the guidance and generosity of Bosque School bee mentor Jessie Brown, parent of Hannah (Class of 2028) and Abigail (Class of 2024), two hives were moved into the Bee Haven the week after this past spring’s graduation. The bees have been hard at work since, expanding the size of the colony, pollinating the local flowering plants, building comb, collecting nectar, pollen, and propolis, and making honey — doing all those things that bees do best. While it is satisfying to have bee hives on campus, the benefits are wide-ranging and multidisciplinary:
Last Spring and Summer
The building of the Bosque Bee Haven was the central project for last spring’s Designing a Better Planet: Imagining a More Sustainable Future immersive, facilitated by Julia Kingsdale and April Brannon. The students designed and built, from upcycled materials, a coyote fence to protect the hives.
Students from the Senior Experience immersive constructed the new raised beds.
The 7th graders, students in the Agua Es Vida immersive and Albuquerque Horizon’s students prepared the raised garden beds, started seedlings of various vegetables and flowers, and planted these and other vegetables into the expanded garden. Parker’s Farm and Greenhouse, located near Edgewood, was kind enough to donate several dozen chile plants, Big Jim’s and Sandia, to the gardening cause.
Kindergarten students attending Bosque Summer were the first students to observe the work the bees had done since being brought onto campus. A bar from the hive with a small amount of comb was brought out of one of the hives for the students to observe. They noted the characteristic design of the comb and asked many questions about the bees and their behaviors.
This School Year - So Far
With the start of the new school year, students from various Spanish classes harvested tomatoes and chiles from the garden to produce artisan salsas while learning about traditional foods from the Southwest and Mexico.
The Upper School Bee Club was established, and a group of dedicated beekeeper apprentices, led by Hannah and Abigail, and again under the guidance of bee mentor Ms. Brown, have been learning how to manage the two top bar beehives, including conducting regular hive checks, learning to identify workers, drones and the queen, checking for the presence of varroa mites and prepping the hives for winter.
The 7th graders, as part of their service learning initiative, which focuses on food and food justice, will put the garden to sleep for the winter, cleaning up the beds that got too weedy, learning why we leave some beds untouched (homes for wintering insects), and providing a warm blanket of cottonwood leaves.
The Upper School Food for All Club will complete the construction of five more raised beds, construct small hoop houses over several of the raised beds this winter, and attempt to grow leafy vegetables in the hoop houses. The club will also help organize a community planting day this coming spring.
While the bee hives are closed up for the winter, the 7th graders will be exploring honey bee and native pollinator biology in science and then applying that knowledge this coming spring as they, too, learn about hive management and make detailed observations of the bees and their behaviors.
Along with the Food for All Club, the 7th graders will create a garden plan, start vegetables from seed to be added to the garden, and prep the beds for the spring planting.
Consistent with our commitment to inquiry-based, experiential learning, the bee and gardening program provides many interesting and unique learning opportunities for our students. There are many, many other ways the bees and the garden can and will enhance the learning environment here at Bosque School.