The Classroom Hives project has a long history and has brought together many people from all walks of life but with a common interest in honey bees.
Classroom Hives started with Jeff Murray, a retired hobbyist beekeeper, who first became interested in observation hives in 1974. He and Esther Splaine, a Boston Public School nurse and another bee enthusiast, developed the original idea of classroom observation hives. The first installation went in the classroom of Heidi Lyne, a sixth and seventh grade science teacher at the Mission Hill Elementary School in 2001. The hive was a success and later moved to the classroom of Jenerra Williams, a second and third grade teacher at the Mission Hill School, where it has been ever since.
Still in the early stages of the project, Jeff and Jenerra dedicated a great deal of time developing the proper management techniques for the hive. They established comprehensive emergency protocols to ensure the student’s safety. In the twelve years that the hive has been in the school, only one student has been stung (subsequent safety protocols were created to address the lapse). Jeff and Jenerra also worked to ensure continuity. One significant discovery was the importance of thermoregulation to the survival of these small colonies.
In November of 2009, Jeff, Jenerra, and Amina Michel-Lord, another school employee, traveled to New Orleans to present their classroom hive experience at the Conference of Essential Schools. While at the conference, they met Benadette Manning and Michel Goe, also Boston teachers, who were very interested in hosting their own hive. After presenting the project to members of the Boston Public School Administration, they were able to install a second observation hive in the Fenway High School in 2010.
While searching the internet to find a source for Benadette’s starter bees, they found Noah Wilson-Rich PhD, a bee immunologist and the owner of Boston’s Best Bees Company™. He graciously provided the bees for Benadette’s new math classroom hive and joined the group to contribute scientific and entrepreneurial knowledge.
During the summer of 2013, Classroom Hives accepted the most recent new members onto the board: Allison Houghton and Jacqueline Beaupre. Allison is a hobbyist beekeeper and assistant grower with The Food Project. Her knowledge of non-profits and community outreach will undoubtedly help Classroom Hives grow. Jacqueline is a science teacher at Hingham High School and former beekeeper at Best Bees. She hopes to contribute her knowledge as an educator and have a hive in her own classroom someday. She is also the current Webmaster. (We must also give special thanks to Denysha Jackson, the Fenway High School student, who created the original Classroom Hives website for a class project.)
On November 24, Classroom Hives was officially granted nonprofit status by the government!
During 2014 the Board welcomed Sadie Richards, the founder of the Boston Beekeepers Club, now the Boston Area Beekeepers Association.
We are focusing on adding more curriculum and startup resources for installing a hive, as well as looking into outreach and fundraising efforts. As always we are looking for new sites to add to the Classroom Hives Network.
The original Mission Hill Hive has been thriving for more than thirteen years and the Fenway Hive is entering its fifth. The project’s original members continue to manage them, captivating new students each year with their classroom honey bees.