Raft River Elementary School students celebrated the International Day of the Honey Bee last week, when they learned more about the pollinators, planted bee friendly flowers and enjoyed a picnic on the school grounds.
“We’re celebrating the Day of Honey Bee and this is our second year of having the pollinator garden on the school grounds,” said Elizabeth Shook, Grade 3 teacher at Raft River Elementary School.
“So we’re just educating students about the importance of honey bees, the importance of protecting them and appreciating what they do for our vegetables, fruits and all of our flowers.”
Shook added Mrs. Cooke, teacher librarian at Raft River, had also been teaching an enquiry unit on honeybees to several of the primary classes and when students from Thompson Rivers University’s Eureka program visited the school to do presentations on science, many teachers chose the honeybee lessons to be presented to classes.
“Combine this knowledge with the Grade 3 students, who did a unit on pollinators last Spring, and you have a group of students that are very knowledgable about the importance of honeybees to our local environment,” Shook said.
Beekeeper Ray Harmes was also onsite with his observation beehive, which gave a good look at the bees’ behavior while inside the hive, and took questions from the interested youngsters.
The number one question the children seemed to have was, “Where’s the queen?”
“They want to see the queen, but I don’t usually bring her; I just don’t want to stress her at all,” said Harmes.
“The queen is at home busy laying eggs. She’ll lay 1,000 eggs a day, so she’s pretty busy.”
Harmes added that honey bees are still on a decline, but he said he thinks as long as enough people maintain their own hives and take care of them properly, extinction shouldn’t be an issue.
Also, with the increasing popularity of towns becoming designated bee cities, like the District of Clearwater did this year, more awareness of the honey bee’s importance is being shared, something Harmes said is a good thing because two-fifths of all the food we eat is from pollination.
“The big (reason for the decline) is probably pesticides, and then also monoculture is a big issue; a lot of the farms now are going to single crops and when you get a single crop, that crop will only bloom once a year,” he said.
“So if you have bees in that area and that’s the only thing they get to, there’s only food there basically for two weeks for them, unless they travel long distances to find other foods and that’s hard for them.”
Farms going to monoculture is essentially habitat destruction for the honey bee, Harmes added, but if people take care of the bees year after year and make more hives, there’s still hope in sight.