Near the end of the past school year, the Rutherford County Beekeepers Association installed an observation honeybee hive in Christa Campbell's classroom. Campbell, who teaches fourth- and fifth-grade math and science, inherited a classroom that was outfitted with a laboratory hood.
"It was taking up space, but I felt like it needed to serve a purpose. We're not dealing with harsh chemicals, so we didn't have a use for it," she explained. "I won a grant through the (Business Education Partnership) to get it in here. I just knew there would be so many math and science connections for them to learn from."
This year's fifth-grade students got to observe the bees prior to summer break.
"We ended up having to hatch a new queen because the first one got crushed," said student Tucker Bartch.
"Now it's starting to lay more eggs again," added classmate Cullie Anne Fraker, who spent part of her summer watching bees near her home.
An pipe attached to the hive exits Campbell's classroom to the school's outdoor garden, home to tomato plants, a compost area and a few chickens. Student Eilis Stevens said students are used to seeing the bees and aren't scared.
"They don't bother you unless you bother them," she said.
Earl Campbell, the teacher's father-in-law, has been a full-time beekeeper for about seven years. He raised the approximately 2,000 bees that live in the hive built by Robert Burns.
Honeybees have been considered endangered, Earl Campbell said, but thinks they're on their way to making a comeback.
"I thought the bees would be good out there with the garden, but I'd never fooled with an observation hive before. I told her we'd give it a shot," the beekeeper said. "Inside her classroom, they should make it through the winter just fine."
It took Eli Delk less than two minutes find the hive's queen Friday.
"That one right there. She's a little more yellow than all the others," he said.
Like his teacher and classmates, Delk has enjoyed watching the bees.
"They usually do a little dance closer to the top of the honeycomb to let each other know where the food is," he said.
Delk said if he had to choose a favorite bee, the warrior would be his favorite.
"If they see something that tries to attack the hive or steal the honey, they keep it safe," he said.
Christa Campbell said last year's fifth-grade students saw something similar first-hand.
"There was a robber bee that came in and tried to take the honey. Honeybees have a good sense of smell, so they found it, killed it and drug it out. It was so crazy, but the kids were excited about it," she said. "And that's the point of this, for them to be excited about learning."
Information from: The Daily News Journal, http://www.dnj.com