Best of the Week 2022-2023: Teaching to the Future
ST. ED'S GAINS NEW ADDITION TO THE GIVING GARDEN; RECRUITS STUDENTS TO LEARN THE BASICS OF BEEKEEPING
St. Ed's Giving Garden continues to expand, from harvesting herbs and vegetables and raising chickens to now adding a beehive. "Bees seemed to be a natural next step for the St. Edward High School Garden & Coop project," says Gardening Club moderator and Language Acquisitions Chair Lisa Hardin. "We collaborated with Karen Tigue who runs the garden at Magnificat High School, who also works with Youth BeeWorks, a non-profit bee education company. She put me in contact with them, and it took flight from there."
Justin Sofio, founder of Youth Beeworks, surveyed the St. Edward Giving Garden and worked with Mrs. Hardin to brainstorm about how to get started and bring bees to St. Ed's campus. "Justin's motivation for bee education comes from a deep conviction that we are called to protect God's creation in nature, and that honey bees are a good way to do that because of their essential role in pollinating plants. Without bees, there wouldn't be plants, which leads to no produce."
St. Ed's Theology Department welcomed Justin into their classrooms to speak to all freshmen, sophomores and juniors and teach them all the ways bees are important to our ecosystem. "Justin's presentation drummed up a lot of interest, and lots of students indicated that they'd be interested in learning how to keep bees and make them a part of St. Ed's Giving Garden," adds Mrs. Hardin.
The beekeeping program consists of eight beekeeping classes and so far, students have completed two classes, covering the function of beekeeping tools, understanding the bee life cycle, generic beekeeping safety, and actually got to handle the delivery of the bees to campus. "Justin brought in a hive with approximately 25,000 honey bees inside and about 15 students and I climbed up to the roof of the school to install them," says Mrs. Hardin. "The roof is a good spot because it is out of the way and keeps the bees and the students safe. With care and safety, Justin allowed students to inspect the bees and showed them how to check and make sure the queen is laying eggs, which can be up to 2,000 per day, and check for any irregularities like too many drone cells."
In the future, students will take turns suiting up in the beekeeping suits and learn how to use the hive tools and smoker and remove and inspect panels. Eventually, students will learn how to extract the honey this fall.
"I am super happy with how much interest there has been from students about learning beekeeping. Personally, I am really happy to learn how to do it too. Bees are fascinating and so important to the ecosystem. Part of the mission of our school garden is 'to cultivate a sense of curiosity about, and reverence for, the earth and our interdependence with all God’s creation,' so I think this fits right in," says Mrs. Hardin.