An urban beekeeping educational pilot program is being touted as the first of its kind at Académie catholique Notre-Dame in Kemptville.
"We're really proud to be able to say that we're the first school in the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE), our school board, and we're also the first and only school right now in the surrounding area, and in the board to have a beehive," said Notre-Dame's principal, Angela Certosini.
As a part of the ecological footprint reduction plan, the honey beekeeping program will give students a chance to learn about biology, biodiversity, food production and industrial agriculture. The program gives students a chance to explore connections among humans, animals and plants, school board official said in a prepared statement.
The school has been working on getting the hive for a year and a half, and on Wednesday, June 16, the beehive was installed.
"We are hoping for in the future to have more hives; being the first for us we had one hive. But we are open to having more on the campus for our school,” said Certosini.
The new beehives will have considerable benefits for the school and Notre-Dame community. The partnership with Alvéole, a certified bee corporation, helps schools achieve their sustainable development through beekeeping. The Alvéole beekeeper will come throughout the year to look after the beehive.
"We'll evaluate the impacts of the project, to see if we would like to have other schools benefit from an installation of a beehive at their school as well. The CECCE does have other schools that are interested in having a beehive at their school. If everything goes well, we'll probably do installations of beehives next year, next summer in those other schools," said Karine Lacelle, the school board's sustainability manager.
Marc Bertrand, director of education, added in a prepared statement: "I'm sure this fun and educational program will plant a seed of ecological awareness in our youngest learners and awaken a sense of environmental responsibility among our older students and staff."
Safety is a concern for the school boards
"The students aren't going to be the ones taking care of the bees, touching the bees or touch the different parts of the bee hive when the beekeeper will be taking care of it. That is the beekeeper's responsibility, so he is going to be taking care of that,” said Lacelle.
"How the students will benefit is by some hands-on: They will be learning to take out the honey from the actual combs. They'll remove the different sections of the beehive that don't have any more bees on them, there are also going to be the sections that the kids will be able to explore hands-on," she continued.
To ensure the safety of the bees and the students, the hive is about a five to seven-minute walk from the school, but still close.
"In the fall when we collect the honey, being the pilot project at this time, we want to focus our energy on everything education and learning, having the students question and develop their abilities to better understand the world of bees. Down the road we definitely would like to explore how we can develop entrepreneur skills with our students," said Certosini.
"It benefits the students in so many ways; there are so many existing opportunities in the curriculum. We have so many students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 and when we were looking for a school project, one of the most important things is how do we engage every age" Certosini adds.
“The beehive allows us to have different links directly to different grades."
The beehive is also a great addition to the Special High Skills Majors program that is focused on the environment, as well as a Human and Planetary Well-being concentration that has a focus on climate change.
The CECCE said in a prepared statement that the Notre-Dame community is committed to environmental protection and is aware of the negative impacts that are associated with the declining bee population and the threat to food security.
"Humanity depends on bees; if there are no bees, there's no future for humanity, so I think this is a great project that's going to allow our students to learn more," added Certosini.
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times