Students in Lloyd Sartin’s middle school class at the Bluegrass Discovery Academy are all abuzz – literally – with their new project. The students are learning the art and science of beekeeping, with the assistance of mentors and grants.
When Lloyd Sartin, middle school teacher at BDA, wanted to begin a hands-on learning project for his students, he looked no further than his own childhood memories of working with his father maintaining their hives. He wanted to start a project that would instill ownership and pride in his students, just as he had felt when he was a young boy.
After approaching Jim and Paula Coss, owners of the Honey & Bee Connection in rural Morehead, Kentucky, and Larry Hood, a local honeybee enthusiast, Lloyd Sartin decided that he would propose the idea to RCMS principal Jay Padula for approval.
“Lloyd had had some experience working with bees when he was a kid, so I knew he knew what he was talking about,” said Mr. Padula. “When he proposed putting the beehives near our wetland area in front of the school, I thought it could be a win-win situation – a win for the environment and a win for the kids.”
Larry Hood began meeting with the students, offering his expertise and answering the questions that some of the students had. He even brought in some local honey and allowed the students to have a taste. He spoke with the students about the importance of maintaining the health of honeybees, telling them about the vital role of honeybees in the pollination of vital crops.
“Without the honeybees, many of the crops we rely on as food sources would suffer,” said Dr. Brent Rogers, associate professor of agriculture at Morehead State University.
Hood also worked with the students on the planning and construction of the beehives. Jim and Paula Coss as well as Guy Griffin, with the Rowan County Schools Transportation Department, donated two protective beekeeper suits and hats. Danny Mabry, vice-chairman of the Rowan County School Board, has offered to help with beekeeping program.
Once the first hive was constructed and put in place, Mr. Hood, Mr. Sartin and the students knew that they needed the nectar from flowering plants to help sustain the bees so they could eventually produce honey. This is where Whitney Watercutter, director of the RCMS Youth Service Center, and the UNITE Club got involved.
“We wrote a grant to get eight fruit trees and fertilizer,” said Ms. Watercutter. “Through Tonia Fugett and the UNITE Coalition, we got the approval for another grant to pay for the materials for a second hive, bees, and beekeeping supplies. It’s these grants and the donations that are helping get this program off the ground.”
The BDA students have named their project the BeeGood Project and they have a long-term goal of collecting enough honey to make it a profitable venture, noted Mr.Sartin.
Hagan Hayes, Jonathan Jones, Shannon McRoberts and Zach Spencer met to discuss the project and talk about the long-range goals for the BeeGood Project.
“We have to take care of the bees so they survive the winter, and especially take care of the queen in each hive,” said Hagan Hayes. “If we take care of the bees, they’ll produce enough honey in a few years that maybe we’ll have enough to sell.”
Part of taking care of the bees in any season is periodically checking on them, such as when they recently traveled from BDA to the middle school to check on each hive. Students took turns wearing the protective beekeeping suits and working with Larry Hood as they checked each frame inside the hive.
When asked what the goal of the BeeGood Project is, the response of the students was immediate, “We have to pay off our debts.” Their teacher, Lloyd Sartin then added, “We’ll also be re-investing in the program. I want this to be a long-range program, but I also want this to be something that students can look back on and remember the part that they played in making this a successful program, both for the students and for the environment.”
For more information about the BeeGood Project, contact Lloyd Sartin at firstname.lastname@example.org.