Students at Crestomere School are positively buzzing with excitement over their honey farm.
The school is now in its third season of honey farming with several bee hives made up of literally thousands of bees.
Principle Penny Mueller says the project started with two Grade 3/4 students who started a cross-curriculum project that went from a small idea and snowballed into a full fledged honey farm. With help from a few mentors, John Soderberg and Kevin Nixon of Nixon Honey Farm, the school now sells its own honey.
Since the program started Mueller says students have learned about the importance of bee care but also how to be entrepreneurs by developing their marketing and getting the honey to a salable product.
“First it was the honey … and then we started to discover how important they are to our environment,” said Mueller.
Seeing how important the honey bee is to the ecosystem drove students and teachers to ask themselves how they could help in their own way. With research and some mentoring, the school learned they could have a sustainable honey farm. Nixon donated two hives to set the school up.
Students have learned the steps for feeding and caring for the hives. They extracted approximately 300 to 400 pounds of honey their first time around.
Each hive has 30,000 to 50,000 bees.
Now going into the beginning of the third season, students are gearing up to get their bees ready for what they do best: being pollinators.
Students now have a strong environmental understanding but they also know how to be beekeepers and have a viable honey product that people want to buy. Not only do they sell the honey, they eat it too. “We serve our honey at our breakfast program.”
The honey produced at the school can be ordered online at the school website or purchased at the school.
Dubbed Bee Buddies Honey, the school now sells bottles of honey with proceeds going directly back to the honey farm program or into other education programs. In this case, the school is working on a hydroponics tower system.
“This wouldn’t have been successful if it hadn’t been for the support of the entire school community,” said Mueller.
Students aren’t wasteful either. They took the beeswax and made a handy lip balm that has become pretty popular. Mueller said teachers and students went through several recipes before they found one that worked best.
“A whole other side mini project was created with (the question), ‘What do we do with this wax?’” said Mueller.
As for the hydroponics tower system the school was recently awarded a grant from Whole Kids Foundation to develop two hydroponics tower systems. These systems use no soil and are fed with water to planted seedlings.
Extra money from the honey farm helped buy a third hydroponics tower that will grow fruits and vegetables to supplement the breakfast program or give students other food to have at school.
Mueller expects to have it up and running in the next few weeks.