STANTON TOWNSHIP – Through a Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) project, middle-school students at E.B. Holman School this month extracted 31.5 pounds of honey, which they filtered and bottled, from two bee hives. The bee hives are located in the newly fenced garden area of the schoolyard.
Lloyd Wescoat, who coordinates K-12 Education Programming for the LSSI, at the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, at Michigan Technological University, said that while this is not the first year for bee-keeping at the school, it is the first year there was enough honey for a harvest.
Community partners Dave and Cathy Caspary, of the Caspary farm, have guided the grade 6-8 students and teachers in their beekeeping learning adventure. They have taught lessons to the students, and have worked alongside teachers in the bee yard, giving expert advice from beginning to end, said Wescoat, on how to start the hive from beginning to end, on how to start the hive, right through how to extract honey and overwinter bees.
For two years, E.B. Holman student/teacher teams has been fortunate enough to have different community partners, Wescoat said. Kathleen Harter and Todd Gemelli taught the basics of beekeeping and fostered the school’s first hives at their farm.
“The beekeeping community lends support to learners at all stages of the process,” said Wescoat, “and E.B. Holman has benefitted from that time and again.”
Wescoat said that with the supply chain interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some essential tools necessary for honey extraction still have not arrived, so local beekeepers stepped in, loaning equipment and providing ideas for emergency substitutes. In spite of remote learning, canceled events, disrupted schedules and new learning protocols, these challenges did not stop the program. Students were still able to extract nearly 40 lbs. of honey. One recent at-home assignment was to design a new label for next year’s honey jars.
The desire for a schoolyard beehive came 10 years ago, Wescoat said, when three teachers visited an apiary on Beaver Island and learned about the role of pollinators in the ecosystem and the concern about declining of bees.
“It fit into E.B. Holman’s long-term Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative project,” she said, “focusing on using land in a way that supports food production and incorporates watershed responsibility.”
In addition to the beehives, the fenced in garden also has raised beds, an orchard and a greenhouse. Funding for the garden has come from the Portage Health Foundation and the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Wescoat said.
The Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative projects include:
• school gardens
• school wide composting
• outdoor classroom
• disc golf course
• geology walkway
• school-wide bird studies
“All projects reflect interdisciplinary grade-level learning standards,” said Wescoat. “Students design models to help create solutions to real-world issues, and older students present findings and lessons to younger students in the school.”
Lead teachers are Jean Dunstan, Deirdre Erbisch and Mike Hainault, along with Chris Rebman, and Principal/Superintendent, James Rautiola.
Community Partners include:
Green Timber Consulting Foresters, Inc.
Grandpa’s Barn, Copper Harbor
Copper Country Audubon Society
KBIC Natural Resources Department
Kathleen Harter & Todd Gemelli, Beekeepers
Dave and Cathy Caspary of Caspary Farms
Through a Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) project, middle-school students at E.B. Holman School this month extracted 31.5 pounds of honey, which they filtered and bottled, from two bee hives.