Students at John Paul I Junior High School in St. Leonard are getting a unique glimpse into the lives of honeybees, as well as hands-on experience extracting honey, thanks to the installation of a beehive on the roof of their school.
The beehive is courtesy of a school program offered by Alvéole (alveole.buzz), a Montreal company that specializes in backyard beehive installation and maintenance. Alvéole takes care of installing the hive as well as the day-to-day maintenance of it to ensure the proper care and feeding of the bees.
According to teacher Stephany Moro, the program ties in neatly with the Living World science curriculum in Grades 7 and 8, which covers sexual and asexual reproduction and other aspects of plant and animal life.
More than 25 schools participate in Alvéole’s program, which includes two hour-long workshops for students: a theoretical class about bees and the environment in the spring, and a hands-on demonstration of honey extraction complete with honey-tasting on site in the fall. Costs for the program start at $1,850 per year, with options to add on more workshops, customized honey jars and labels, and other extras.
After extraction, the honey produced by the hive is jarred and given to the school. According to Alvéole, each of its hives produces around 10 kg of honey per year. At John Paul I, the honey harvest filled 96 small jars. Students and staff are now working on a plan to sell the honey in order to raise money to purchase a second hive, a plan that will also give the children a way to learn entrepreneurial skills.
Moro said she is hoping the school can expand its beehive program and incorporate teaching about bee life, honey harvesting, entrepreneurship and other aspects of the program into more interdisciplinary projects in future.
“The learning experience, the children’s experience, and tying it into an entrepreneurship project — it was all better than expected,” Moro said. “The kids really enjoyed it, and they loved the harvesting part, seeing where the honey comes from.”