Classroom Hives has a long history and has brought together many people from all walks of life all 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.
Still in the early stages of the project, Jeff and Jenerra dedicated spent years developing the proper management techniques for the hive. They established comprehensive emergency protocols to ensure the student’s safety. Since 2001, only one student has been stung when a bee entered the room through an open classroom window (subsequent safety protocols such as screened windows were created to address the lapse).
In 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 there, they met Benadette Manning and Michelle 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. The Fenway hive has been the cornerstone of a geometry unit, “ Do bees build it best?” A curriculum, Interactive Mathematics Program developed by Key Curriculum Press.
On November 24, 2013 Classroom Hives was officially granted nonprofit status. Today we continue focusing on developing the curriculum and startup resources for installing a hive, as well as looking into outreach and fundraising efforts. We are always looking for new sites to add to the Classroom Hives Network. Locations of current schools, college, nature centers, and parks that have observation beehives through Classroom Hives can be found on the Locations page. The original Mission Hill Hive and Fenway Hive are still strong and continue to captivate new students each year with their classroom honey bees.