Students raise honey beesSubmitted: 05/21/2014
Story By Matt Brooks

Students raise honey bees
EAGLE RIVER - Todd Wilfer's eighth grade science class thought they should start raising honey bees, so they turned to the community and got things going.

The honey bee project started out as a way teaching kids science in the community. When you gather the honey, you have to wear protective suits, not only to protect yourself, but to protect the bees.

"Well we've had the bees here for eleven days and what we're doing is we're going to take some of the honey from the bees and send it our to our sponsors," said Eighth grader Jack Brown. "There's tons of sponsors that are local and we're going to use some of it for school like making chap-stick and just to eat."

The students will take care of the bees over the summer and they'll make sure they're healthy for the fall. Wilfer wants more kids to get involved with the project and expand it in the next few years.

"The next incoming eighth grade class next fall will bottle the honey right away when school starts and that will be delivered back to our bee sponsors," said Wilfer. "Any excess honey will be used in our family and consumer education classes and our science and food class that will be at the school next year."

The school has more than 120 sponsors that helped pay for the project.

The honey bees they're raising aren't native to Wisconsin, but that won't stop the class from making this their home.

"These bees are Italian bees and they came from California," said Wilfer. "There are native bees around, the Mason bee is one bee that we're going to work on next year and building habitats for local, native, pollinator bees. For now the honey bees are convenient because they're pretty easy to tend to."

The efforts to raise honey bees will help to prevent Colony Collapse Disorder which was identified in 2006. Right now the class has 20,000 honey bees and hopes to triple that number over the summer. They expect to produce nearly 50 pounds of honey by the end of this year.

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