BEE WISE students Avy Lamb and Laine Unger work with honey bees during the BEE WISE celebration on Wednesday at Lacombe Composite High School. (Photo by Susan Zielinski/Advocate staff)

BEE WISE gets award

Lacombe high school students supporting bees

Students at Lacombe Composite High School will be recognized for their work with bees at the 26th annual Emerald Awards in Edmonton on June 6.

The BEE WISE project, developed by students in the school’s EcoVision Club and agriculture class, will receive the Ron Kruhlak Award which comes with a $1,000 cash prize to help them continue their environmental project.

Six students are currently part of BEE WISE.

Teacher Steven Schultz said BEE WISE came about because two-and-a-half years ago a small group of students were concerned about the declining bee population in North America.

“I’m very, very proud, absolutely in awe. If you give students an opportunity to dream, they’ll come up with big dreams,” Schultz said.

The first phase of the project was to build a bee hotel for solitary bees. Then they built pollinator gardens. Lastly they learned how to handle and look after bees by taking a Green Certificate Beekeeping Technician program through Olds College. And just a few months ago they got their first honey bee hive.

He said Lacombe Composite is the first high school in Alberta to offer the beekeeping certificate program. About 12 students are already interested in taking the course next year.

“You have to know what you’re doing. Bees are like any other animal. You have to take care of them. They can get diseases and they have to be managed.”

Three hives in the school yard are surrounded by a 1.8-metre chain link fence enclosure with a locked gate. Each hive can have up to 10,000 honey bees. Honey will be harvested in the fall.

Schultz said the next phase for BEE WISE is for students to teach what they have learned by offering a community beekeeping course.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity. If everything goes right, we hope that starts in September,” Schultz said.

BEE WISE student Laine Unger said beekeeping requires a lot of hands on learning and it takes a lot perseverance.

“You have to be very, very patient with bees. If you are rushed, you end up getting stung. I found that out the hard way,” said Unger who has been stung about 10 times.

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