Agricultural Literacy Grant awarded to Honeybees in the Classroom: “It’s all for the kids”

In Minnesota, Butterfield-Odin Public School’s third-grade teacher, Jen Harris, brings an observation hive into her classroom each fall. Students first think the honeybees will escape and sting. After Harris reassures them, and they take a good look at the hive, it’s hard for the students to pull away. They don’t want to miss anything. In the past, some students have even witnessed baby bees hatch.

Harris calls her project Honeybees in the Classroom, and it recently received an Agricultural Literacy Grant valued at $650 from Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom. The grant will help Harris teach the students about different bee products that aren’t just everyday honey.

“I was very excited, to say the least when I found out I’d gotten chosen,” said Harris. “It’s all for the kids.”

Honeybees are crucial to Harris because they’re starting to disappear. Different theories behind the cause range from cell phone tower usage to insecticides and pesticides.

“I feel it’s just more important than ever to educate the kids on what they can do to help the bee population,” said Harris. “One that really stands out is dandelions. As kids, all of us, I’m sure, picked the dandelions and brought them in [for] our teacher, mom, or whatever. But I always tell the kids, don’t spray the dandelions because in the spring, what’s the first thing that pops up in our lawns? Dandelions. That’s one of the honeybees’ first foods or sources of nectar.”

Harris finds it amazing how many parents return to her to say, “Thanks, Mrs. Harris. We can no longer spray our dandelions,” and Mrs. Harris tells them, “That’s good!” After learning in the classroom, the kids are sharing with their families and helping to keep the honeybee alive.

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