As we approach the end of October—the leaves and changing colors, the brisk mornings and frosted windshields—we begin to settle in for the cold. The beginning months of the school year fall in sync with the most beautiful environmental changes, making it the perfect time to study and take note of nature’s busiest creatures: bees.
Over the last few years, SCH Academy has been home to a beehive located just outside its Middle School Building. It’s become a hotspot for first grade science classes to observe, analyze, record, and explore. Students study a unit on the anatomy of bees, flowers, and pollination, learning the way bees communicate and use their senses.
“We think first grade is a great age to teach about bees. Kids always start out wary of them but then come to understand their importance and beauty,” says Anya Rose, one of SCH’s Lower School Science teachers.
Bees continue to be a discussion topic in our Upper School curriculums as well. In SCH’s pharmacology elective, students experiment with various types of honey to see which is most effective at killing bacteria and compare results to known antibiotic drugs—like penicillin and streptomycin.
Every September, the Lower School is paid a visit by local beekeeper Eli St. Amour who the students now lovingly refer to as Eli the Bee Guy. During this visit, Eli discusses what it means to be a beekeeper. He shares a demonstration hive where pieces of the hive and live bees are placed in a sealed case, allowing students to see things up close, ask questions, and even try on the beekeeper suit.
Before the winter frost hits, Eli harvests the honey from campus and packages it in delicate jars labeled Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. Students are given the chance to taste the honey sourced from the same bees they’ve spent so much time observing and analyzing.
As part of the school’s curriculum, students practice an honorable harvest by thinking about the ways they can be respectful and mindful when taking things from nature for personal use. Most importantly, they learn to never waste their harvest and always share.
But honey isn’t the only food grown on campus. Over the course of a year, SCH’s organic gardens produce lettuce, microgreens, eggplant, zucchini, peas, cherry tomatoes, and more. In keeping with the school’s honorable harvest mantra, SCH aims to find ways to incorporate more of the campus-grown food in their own cafeterias.
“I gave a jar [of honey] to the kitchen in each cafeteria and asked them to think about menu items that we could feature using SCH’s honey,” says SCH Science Department Chair Scott Stein. “I can’t wait to see what they do with it!”
This week, SCH’s Chef Budd Cohen went above and beyond making Tuesday’s lunch menu a “Honey Celebration” with items like Grilled Ham & Turkey Wrap with Honey Mustard, Honey BBQ Chicken Pizza, and even Honey Glazed Carrots.
“It’s really important to know where your food is coming from,” says Chef Budd Cohen. “We try to keep all of our ingredients local—just wait until you see what our lunch menu looks like for Halloween.”