“Our mission 5 years ago was to place one thousand bee hives in classrooms across the country.”
Bees have a bit of a bad rap, but one organization is looking to change that by sparking interest in young students by placing beehives inside their classrooms- giving young students a look inside the hive to show that not only are bees friendly, but they’re also extremely beneficial!
The Bee Cause Project started with a moment executive director Tami Enright had when she brought her beekeeping gear to one of her children’s career day. “Nobody had any idea about beekeeping…so I saw a moment where we piqued their curiosity. It gave us an opportunity to have a conversation about what bees do for us, why I’m a beekeeper, and what would happen if we didn’t have bees.”
Together with Ted Dennard, founder of the local Savannah Bee company on King Street, they placed an indoor “observation hive” in the library at Sullivan Island Elementary. Fast forward 5 years later, the non-profit Bee Cause Project is now international with 500 hives placed inside schools in all 50 states, including nearly 100 schools in South Carolina.
These hives are smaller than commercial hives, with around 5 thousand bees, but the crucial difference is the transparent windows that give young students a look at the busy bees. The bees live and produce honey within view, but can easily go outside and pollinate via a tube outdoors. Schools who receive hives via grants from the Bee Cause can also elect to have outdoor hives called Langstroth hives.
Schools that want a hive can apply for a grant online at thebeecause.org, but expect a wait list due to the growing popularity. Decisions for who will receive the grants occur every fall to coincide with the school year and the natural bee cycle. The Bee Cause Project recently shipped 144 grants across the country in January. The Bee Cause does not ship bees, rather they give a monetary grant so that schools may buy bees locally.
Teachers use the hives as a unique visual aid for STEM education, but many times it is the students that cultivate their own curiosity. Look no further than Tami’s own son, who expertly explained why bees are nothing to be frightened about compared to other pests, “Honey bees are gatherers, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets (like in My Girl) are hunters- carnivores. They kill and eat other insects, bees eat nectar and pollen from flowers. They don’t tend to have that aggressive trait in their DNA.”
Safety is still at the forefront, with the Bee Cause working one on one with participating schools to have safety protocols and best practices for kids with allergies.
As the saying goes, “Children are the future”. The Bee Cause understands this and is hoping that children are the future wellbeing of bees as well. Bees are dying at an alarming rate, roughly ⅓ of the population per year. It is not fully understood why the bee populations are declining, but maybe placing beehives in classrooms, connecting science and nature in young students, is the start of fixing this crisis.
Storm Team 2 Meteorologist David Dickson
Video provided by the Bee Cause Project