GREENUP Carrie Davis said it all began last school year when the president of the Greenup County Bee Keeper’s Association came and spoke to her class. Davis, who has been a teacher for 19 years, has been at Greenup County High School for six years. She is the Agriculture teacher there as well as the FFA (Future Farmers of America) Advisor.
“It was fascinating and the class was very interested,” Davis said on the presentation about bees. “And it ties in with what we are doing, trying to be good stewards, and conservationists in agriculture.”
Davis said that the school already has a garden and an orchard they tend, and after hearing about bees, they were sure that they could do that as well.
“He made us believe that we could do it and be successful at it,” Davis said. “And he said that there was support for it, and he was absolutely right. He’s been out himself to check on our bees and the club Apiarist has been out, and they have all been super-supportive. They even have monthly meetings, with training and a bee school.
Davis said that she went to the bee school, as did several of her students. The next phase was finding money to get some bees at the school. She said she found out the company Bayer Crop Science was offering a grant called ‘Feed a Bee’, which was specifically designed toward establishing vegetation and forage for all ‘pollinators’, specifically bees. The school applied for and won the grant, and got started right away.
“So we just told them what we would like to do,” Davis said. “We wanted to get hives established here (the high school) and at Wurtland Elementary, to help foster the interest in younger children.”
Part of the education, Davis said, was helping people to overcome common misconceptions about bees. “There’s a fear factor for people when it comes to bees,” Davis said. “ And if you can change that at an early age it helps to mitigate the long term misconceptions.”
One of those misconceptions Davis highlighted was the fear of being stung, a behavior which honey bees especially must be forced into. Unlike wasps or many other stinging insects which swarm and are easily agitated, honey bees are much less aggressive and will only sting if they or the hive are threatened. “They are mostly out to get their food and get back to the hive,” Davis said.
The grant itself funds not only the bees but trees, wildflowers, and bulbs to feed them as well, Davis said. These will provide forage for the school’s bees and a host of other ‘pollinators’ in the area as well. The school’s bees survived the winter so far, Davis said, and she has confidence for the coming year.
“Five of my students that attended the bee school will be taking hives home with them as well,” Davis said. Davis also said that the school has received a lot of support in the form of group and individual donations, including that of one individual from the bee school donating a hive, and another individual from the Master Gardeners Club donating several hives.. Such generosity, Davis said, allows the school to share and spread their program out, or as she says ‘Pay it Forward’.
Davis described spreading the hives around as a chain, with each student bee -keeper ‘splitting’ their hive at least once with another potential bee-keeper. “Hopefully we can help the kids with the cost, because it can be expensive. Around a hundred dollars for bees, and the box (hive) abut the same. Davis said there is a local man who makes the hive boxes, and also the Honey Connection in Morehead sells both the boxes and the kits to assemble the boxes. Her class typically buys the unassembled boxes to save money; then they also have the added bonus of learning how to put them together.
Davis said her class would be thrilled to share information with any other school interested in helping spread the word and help the pollinators thrive again in our area. And anyone interested in more information or in donating to the Feed a Bee should contact her at Greenup County High School.