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The Buzz on Rossman’s Bees

by Denise Boyd 
Science Teacher Grades SK-3
Social Studies Teacher Grade 3

If you’ve walked Rossman’s halls this fall you may have noticed there is quite a buzz. Beyond the beautiful art wall of textured honeycomb and worker bees in the foyer, past the alumni commons, you’ll see skeleton Mike adorning a traditional Langstroth beehive. Atop the hive is a smoker and full length gloves. Skeleton Mike is also wearing an unusual hat with netting all the way around the brim. This may have caused you to have a few questions. I hope to answer some of the frequently asked questions below and to create more of a buzz around campus!

FAQ’s (from students and parents):

What is that and why is it in the hallway?
This is a man-made beehive that has multiple levels where bees can live and make honey.

Are there bees in it now?
No. But there will be bees in it this coming spring. It will be moved to a designated spot off the side of the nature trail when there are bees in it. You would still be able to walk the nature trails and be in no danger of disturbing the hive.

Why wait till the spring?
The natural cycle of a healthy hive is best to be divided after surviving the winter. Honey bees, like other bees, are inactive through the winter. They conserve their energy, lightly flap their wings to create warmth, and surround the queen through the cold months. Waiting till the spring of 2024 will also allow for all the necessary learning to take place in the classroom and for the team of teachers who will be working with the bees to be ready.

Will we have to go there?
No, we will never make you go up close to the hive. However, we will teach you all about bees with the goal to grow an appreciation for them and to have an open mind to learning from them and about them closer and closer each time you visit. We also plan to have a special observatory that can (temporarily) securely contain and transport one frame with bees. This will allow students to see up close without the worry of being stung. 

Will we have to wear the bee suit?
Absolutely. Currently we have one child sized bee suit, one adult sized bee suit, and 2 netted hats. The plan is to have more child sized suits to be able to have small groups visits at first with a lofty goal to have enough for a half group (16).

Will we get stung when we visit the hive?
It is possible, but not probable. We will be learning the correct safety protocol for visiting the hive. Additionally, bees don’t want to sting people. They only sting people defensively when they think they are in danger. Honey bees actually die after stinging, with the exception of the queen who can sting over and over. But she only leaves the hive once in her life. Any time the hive is visited, there will be a first aid kit with the visitors that will be stocked with epi-pens for the rare instance of a severe reaction.

Will we get to eat the honey?
Yes and no. It is likely that the first year of a new hive the honey will need to stay there to feed the colony. Some may be able to be harvested, but it would be a small amount. Maybe enough to have students sample on a spoon.  After a healthy year settling into their new home, the bees would more likely make more. We have intentions to add Rossman’s honey to our fundraiser auctions to help with ongoing costs of maintaining the bees.

Is there anything we can do to help?
Learn about bees as much as you can! Knowledge is power. The more you understand about bees, their lifecycle, the types of local native flowers they like, the predators and challenges they have, the more prepared you and your family will be to support Rossman’s bees…and the future of all bees.

What flowers can I plant to help the bees?
Any flowers that say they are good for pollinators will be good. Specifically, asters, coneflowers, and blue hyssop are some of my favorites.

Bee on the lookout in the future months for a bulletin board in the hallway with hive news and other updates on the progress of this bee-utiful adventure.  There may be an auction item at the gala in February that would be designing and painting one of the hive boxes. Additionally, there may bee a spring AEP and summer camp class that focuses and visits the hive often.

Please share your questions and clever puns! Email me at