Busy as a bee

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Busy as a bee

Lindsay Huck, copy editor

Mandy Melton’s students know how to get her off topic in class, whether it be asking about her children, chickens or bees. Melton said she started beekeeping because there has been a decline in bees the past few years, for cheap honey and for the love of science. When three students approached Melton with the idea of a club to promote pollinators (bees in particular) and environmental sustainability, Melton was all for it.

“I told the students, ‘If you do all of the work, I’ll sponsor your club,’” Melton, science teacher and Bee Club sponsor, said. “They know I’m a science geek, so I was [excited] about [encouraging] sustainability, reusing, reducing and recycling throughout [KHS].”

Melton said there was a grant for funds for the Bee Club in the fall of 2016, but the fund ran out of money due to budget cuts. The club then got put on a waitlist, meaning they could not afford hives. The students did not want to wait to get beehives solely because of the lack of money so the club started to fundraise so they could get hives in the spring. Lindsey Carvalho, junior and founder of the club, said one of her main jobs is working with Melton to organize fundraisers.

“The kids really wanted to raise enough money to get bees [at KHS] in the spring,” Melton said. “In an effort to promote sustainability and all pollinators, we collected seeds from flowers in the fall. We created ‘bloom booms,’ which are essentially seed bombs with compost and biodegradable kitty litter [that are] good for pollinators. We have been selling [bloom booms], reusable bags, scrunchies out of old t-shirts and kitchen scrubbers [made from Cutie Bags].”

The club members raised $750, but not enough to buy the hives, Melton said. She then networked with her colleagues, and one of her connections donated two hives. The club will have to fund for safety equipment and tools alongside with colonies of bees, two of which cost $370. According to nebees.com, the first two years of beekeeping are the most expensive, and the total cost for all of the essential materials is around $1000.

“Although we had the hives donated to us, the club members still had to pay for the colony of bees, the equipment and safety gear to go along with [maintaining the hives],” Melton said.

Carvalho said she wanted to start an environmentally conscious club. She chose bees because she wanted to spread awareness for them as they are a major world pollinator.

“I work closely with Melton to fundraise [to get beehives and tools], and I am working on a video [to raise awareness] for the bees,” Carvalho said. “My mom had been pushing me to get involved in a club [at KHS], but none of them hit me at heart so I started Bee Club.”

Elena Wallach, junior, said she joined Bee Club because her friends encouraged he. She said she has become more aware of the possibility of bee extinction and the importance of saving pollinators.

“Bee Club is a good learning experience because we learn about [bees] importance to the environment,” Wallach said. “I [encourage] my friends to [inform] themselves about [misconceptions] about bees because many people think they are [dangerous].”

Melton said she thinks the decline of bees will be devastating for the environment. Bee populations have been declining due to the pesticides sprayed on plants and through climate change. Bees are essential in cooking and plant diversity, Melton said. According to yale.edu, for the past 10 years beekeepers have reported more than a 30 percent of hive losses, contributing to the rapid decline of bees.

Bees pollinate plants and also contribute to the honey industry. According to Melton, the decrease of bees will affect the rest of the environment via the trickle-down effect.

“One in every three bites of food you eat is due to honey bee population,” Melton said. “I think we will see a big decrease in our food production which is bad because we have a rising population.”

Melton thinks students will be freaked out as they bring bees onto campus. The hives will be located on the courtyard in the engineering building. She advises students not to be afraid of the bees because they will not be around most of the student body.

“Don’t be afraid of bees,” Melton said. “The beehives will be isolated, and students will only be exposed to the hives if they are in the club with certain safety gear on. Bees will not bother you unless you bother them.”

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